Not to be confused with Stubby Boardman, the lead singer of the popular musical group The Hobgoblins. That, folks, was a little Harry Potter humor, bonus points to the nerd who identifies the fictitious periodical I’m quoting.
So on we go to the next technical round. By now, it’s possible you are scraping yourself with broken pottery (Job humor?) and groaning – “Please don’t start on that whole Binary thing again, it’s stupid and you smell like wet dog.” I don’t smell like wet dog, what you are actually smelling is the subtle paradigm shift of technical comprehension.
Network. To quote the dictionary, a network is a group or system of interconnected people or things. In our case, these things are computers. If you have one computer and it wants to talk to itself, well perhaps it’s time to invest in some therapy. But if you have one computer that wants to check its email, it is communicating with another computer. And if you have one computer that wants to buy Kenny Roger’s Greatest Hits on iTunes and rock out some Don’t Fall In Love With a Dreamer, well you’re communicating with another computer. And if you want to update your Quicken finances from your bank or download maps for your Garmin GPS or watch Netflix or make sure your Apple stock didn’t tank because they haven’t had an original thought since Steve Jobs took a dirt nap, well you’re communicating with another computer. The act of communicating with each other is called networking, and the avenue of communication is across a network.
There are two kinds of networks – Local Area Network (LAN) and Wide Area Network (WAN). Well, technically there is a third – Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) but that’s obscure and no one cares about them and besides – behind every great MAN there is a woMAN. That, kind sir, is nerd humor. I’ll focus on LAN and WAN because that’s really the foundation of our entire study here.
The LAN or Local Area Network is best summarized as what you plug “your stuff” into. For most of us, the LAN is accessed by plugging an Ethernet cable into our Netgear Router or Linksys Switch or by accessing our Wireless Router on our wireless device. Examples of “your stuff” that sit on your LAN are the DVD Player that streams Netflix, Laptops and iPads and iPods (oh my), Desktop Computers and wireless printers. All this stuff connects to a network so it can talk to other stuff.
The best comparison I can make here is with roads. Let’s say that you own a sprawling five acre island, with lots of little huts all over the island. And interconnecting those little huts are roads – one could say those huts are all networked. But we must distinguish that those roads are not huts. Why, if I told you have the things I’ve heard about these huts, you’d probably short circuit. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Now let’s take that island analogy and compare it to our home LAN. All our little huts (the laptops, iPods, wireless printers, etc.) are interconnected via roads. Those roads are our Local Area Network. The roads may be paved in Ethernet cabling, or perhaps they are paved in wireless fluff. But they are there and they allow us to get from hut to hut, device to device. If I want to pull up a Word Document that resides in another hut, I go down the network road to that hut. If I want to print to the hut over there from my hut, I print across the network road. Pretty simple, right?
By comparison, the WAN or Wide Area Network is best summarized as “not your stuff”. Not to be confused with “Not the Mama” which every father reading this can probably relate to at some point in time. “Not your stuff” could be summarized as anything outside your home that you access. Using the island analogy, if you want to leave your own private island and visit a hut somewhere else to buy a strawberry mango smoothie (very delicious), you have to leave your island (LAN) and go to someone else’s hut. Once you leave your Island, you are traversing different roads that are not your own – that is the Wide Area Network (WAN). The roads out there could be paved with copper wire like your home, or perhaps light signals riding fiber optics. But the bottom line is those roads are not yours, they belong to someone else. You have no real control over those roads, they just get you from your hut to someone else’s hut. You’ll often hear the WAN called by another name – the Internet.
I should stop before I wade off into deep water. But I must cover one final topic – the gate. Your island has walls all around it to keep your stuff in, and keep other people out of your stuff. It has to be so, or there is no real “mine” or “yours”. To get off your island or out of your LAN, you have to go through a gate that separates “out there” from “in here”. On our LAN, there is a real device that we have to go through to get from “in here” to “out there”. This device is called a router.
The router is the gate to the world out there. The router connects our LAN to our ISP – our Internet Service Provider. I’ll say a few words, tell me if they ring a bell: Verizon. Fios. Comcast. DSL. America Online. Oh wow, America Online – anyone remember that? Those are examples of companies that have their own roads (networks) that connect our island (LAN) to the world out there. That point where the two touch each other is the router. Using the gate analogy, you have to go through the gate to get out there. Using the house analogy, you have to go through the door to get out there. And the opposite is true, too – to get from out there into here, you have to come through the gate or door or router. It’s the router’s job to keep the two separate from each other – a digital bouncer for our elite club LAN.
This router is very important, especially when we get into the deeper waters of content filtering and security. For most (if not all) of our home networks, there is a single gate or door or router connecting our stuff to the world outside. We have one way in or out – and the technical term for this kind of network is a Stub Network. If you have one way in or out for your LAN, and all your stuff has to go through that one single gate / door / router to get out, you probably have a Stub Network. And that is nothing to be ashamed of – most people have a Stub Network. The drawback to a Stub Network is the single point of failure it provides. If your Comcast Internet goes down or your Fios blows up, there is no other way to binge on Lost episodes on Netflix. The single point of failure went down – you are done.
I’ll stop here. For now. Thanks to a quick Google Image Search, here is a sample image of a home Network (LAN) and where it connects to the WAN / Internet.
*Disclaimer: Please realize much of this advice is meant to be “tongue in cheek,” not to provoke hate mail or death threats. Hopefully, you can relate to having done some pretty crazy things as a parent and can have a good laugh at my expense. Yes, this advice is taken from my own actual parenting experience and is many times just plain wrong. No, I will not be winning the mother of the year award. Yes, I realize lightning might strike me at any moment. Please read this post before continuing, and only attempt to follow this advice at your own risk. Results may vary.
How do I homeschool my oldest 2 children with 3 little ones in tow? We are getting ready to start homeschool in a few days, and I’m panicking! Please tell me how you do it!
Dear Haggard Homeschooler,
This is a big job! First, make a schedule. Plan out on an hourly basis what each child will be working on and whom you will be working with at any given time. Be sure you are spending one-on-one time with each child at some point during the day. I personally like this schedule template. I won’t go in depth here. If you need more help, Google it, and you will find millions of examples. Realize that a schedule is merely a guideline to follow, and a day following the schedule exactly (or even moderately) will almost definitely never be attained. Have a plan, but go with the flow—the crazy, maddening, tumultuous flow.
Entertaining your younger children while doing one-on-one teaching with your older students will be your biggest challenge by far. You may have children that will be entertained with the traditional and antiquated charms of crayons and paper, stickers, and/or toys. You might even be able to use the infamous “busy bags” for these children. By all means try these ideas. The little ones might indeed sit quietly entertaining themselves with these things while you help your older children with their schoolwork. If so, bully for you!
On the other hand, you may have a child (or two or three) who just can’t seem to occupy himself. For this child, playdough play lasts approximately 15 seconds. Drawing with a crayon almost instantly becomes drawing on his brother’s schoolwork, the table, and the walls. He may even scream incessantly anytime you tried to read a book aloud. He may endanger himself when your eyes are diverted for even seconds.
For this special brand of child, I recommend lots of electronic devices. Television and videos provide hours of entertainment and education for your little ones. As long as the materials are good quality educational or character-building shows, go for it. iPads in particular provide complete peace and quiet for hours on end. Computer games, handheld video games, and Wiis are all good options (as long as the game is not violent or inappropriate for young eyes). Many, many games and videos now teach your child to read, understand math, love history, and more!
If you feel the need to limit screen time, limit it at other times of the day, but not while you are teaching your older children. If the electronics your little ones are using are distracting to the older ones, consider giving the little ones headphones, or taking the older children into an adjoining room where they can’t see/hear the media.
Yes, electronics may cause your child to develop some ticks or even ADHD, but you can cross that bridge when you come to it. It’s quite possible that scientists will one day discover that screens don’t cause ADHD after all. Remember how eggs were bad for us? Coffee, oil, salt, and butter have alternated between being good and bad for us over the years. Who’s to say screens won’t come back to the good side? Consider this article which tells of a study that concludes playing video games helps dyslexic kids read better.
Feeling your pain,
What are your favorite games, videos, or apps to keep your little ones quiet?
Behold our everyday home. Most days it looks like a library and a daycare collided spewing books, papers, pencils, toys, bouncers, burp cloths, dirty dishes, and diapers everywhere. (Believe it or not, it actually looks more messy than this most days.)
Amidst the mess, we have officially survived our first two days of the 2013-14 homeschool year! I was woefully unprepared, but we jumped in anyway. My to-do-ahead-of-time list didn’t get even half-way done. So it will just have to get done little by little as we go along.
This will be my 8th year homeschooling, and I have to admit that I am completely terrified. I haven’t felt this scared since our very first year. My daughter is starting high school, and this means homeschool gets serious. All of my homeschooling mom friends who have graduated kids assure me it’s no big deal, but I just cannot yet imagine that is true. I feel very much like I’m jumping off a cliff blindfolded.
In addition to this new and frightening venture, I have a very spirited 5-yr-old who is starting kindergarten this year. Kindergarten is not so scary—except that I also have that brainy highschooler to keep track of, my fun-loving-but-undermotivated 11-yr-old to teach, my pretty little 3-yr-old to keep occupied, and my sweet, chubby infant to care for.
Just thinking about it all makes my head spin. Before school even started, I was regularly losing track of a child or two at any given time. How on earth will I do it now???
I will cry a lot. I will pray a lot. Just like every other year.
Every year I am SURE I will not survive. Every year I do. God’s grace is the only explanation.
Homeschooling is hard. It’s very hard. But for our family, the rewards have been worth it. So I keep reminding myself that we’ve made it this far. Surely, God is not going to stop helping us now.
What’s the worst that could happen this year? The house will be a mess, we’ll eat lots of processed food, and we’ll never have any clean laundry? Well, what’s new?
My kids won’t do well on their standardized tests? The other day, I ran into a friend of mine who had cancer a few years back. She shared with me that, the year she was having chemo, they basically lost a year of school progress. Her daughter tested below grade level that year, and guess what? Nothing happened. The state didn’t come and declare my friend an unfit teacher and insist she put her child in public school immediately. Nothing at all happened. When they tested the girl the next year, she had caught up and was significantly above grade level. This is very comforting to me. Even if we have a rotten year, the kids can catch up, and most likely government officials won’t come and drag my children away from me.
What if my teenager (and/or I) can’t handle high school? My evaluator assures me that we can take our time. She doesn’t have to finish one grade in one year. She could take two years to finish one grade. If she bombs a class? We can retake it.
But what if I forget to take time to enjoy my precious chubby baby and sweet little ones who are growing at lightning speed? What if I hurry everyone through life, and I get too busy to be kind, patient, and gentle? What if lose my perspective completely? That would be truly tragic. (btw, that has happened way too much the past few years.)
So above all, I am resolving to enjoy my children this school year. I’ll try my darndest to be patient will all my kids—and my Geek too. I will try very hard not to rush them. I will attempt not to freak out that the house is always a disaster, that we are eating too much prepared convenience food, and that we don’t have any clean clothes to wear.
Heavenly father, please help me be present for everyone—big and small. Please don’t let me get swallowed up by the impossibility of what lies before me!
What’s That Sound? Homeschool Has Arrived
I had the privilege of taking an online Cisco course from my home this week. And as a teacher droned on and on about Enterprise Call Routing and Interactive Voice Response, I was also treated to the background sounds of home. Not just any home, either – this week our home became a school house. That’s right – homeschool has begun.
Sounds of Homeschool
If Homeschool were a sound, what would it sound like? I suppose that would be a difficult question – much like saying “what does a rock concert sound like?” I could try to explain what a Rush concert was like by mimicking the guitar sounds, complete with air guitar, and by waving my arms around to signify the cool laser lights and pyrotechnics. But that falls short, a pale reflection of an amazing event. All that to say, this won’t give you the full effect, but it’s the best I can do.
Excited sounds from excited kids. Wailing and screaming over having to start / stop / pause school. Gloomy sounds from gloomy “I don’t want to get out of bed” kids. Wailing and screaming over missed problems. Jumping / stomping / marching sounds. Yelling sounds such as “____ took my ____” or “_____, stop _____”. And sometimes, the sweet sound of silence. I’ll assume those moments were filled with children happily reading to stretch their brains, or perhaps someone clubbed someone else unconscious. Either way, it was a nice sound. Those are the sounds of Homeschool.
A Reminder of Why We Homeschool
“Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” C.S. Lewis
“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.” Viktor Frankl
Cool Computer of the Day
Dell charges WHAT for a computer? (Answer = way too much). This is a Raspberry Pi – a fully functional computer that can fit in the palm of your hand. For a mere 35 dollars, this can be yours. Slap an SD Card in this puppy and you can run Linux and be playing Minecraft on your Large Screen Television. It’s the ultimate customizable nerd project, I got one of these for my son Aaron for his birthday. The catch is you have to learn how to use Linux – then the sky is the limit.
You can plug a usb camera into it and program it as a spy device. You can program it as a media server to play your MP3 collection or stream Internet radio on a TV. I mentioned Minecraft, but you can play tons of games on it, or even convert it to a retro arcade machine using an emulator. You could build a robot out of Legos and program your Pi to do voice controlled activities. You could build a mini computer that mounts on your car dashboard. You could even hook it up to a home monitoring system and control your air conditioner, coffee pot, or door locks. The only limitation is your imagination – and perhaps your ability to search for ideas on Google.
He died on July 12, 1973, two months before I was even born and years later his legacy lives on. On the television screen is a tortured man, radiating pain, anguish and loneliness. He is forever cursed to walk the earth alone, finding but never keeping love, always in fear of who he is and what he will become at the next full moon. Larry Talbot suffers from a very rare and dangerous disease – lycanthropy, from the Greek lykoi, meaning “wolf” and anthropos, meaning “man.” You may know Larry Talbot by another name: the Wolfman.
The man behind the fur, Lon Chaney Junior, was forever engulfed by his father’s shadow. Lon Chaney Senior was a rather famous silent screen Hollywood actor, and the apple certainly fell close to the tree in his son. Lon is the only man to play the leading role as four separate classic Universal monster movies – he portrayed the Frankenstein Monster, the Wolfman, the Mummy, and Dracula. At the peak of his career he was well known for his lead role in Of Mice and Men, but for me he always shall remembered for the role of Larry Talbot. He is forever mired in his quest to overcome the evil that he becomes, trying to find redemption while forever destined to become the loathsome beast. It’s Jekyll and Hyde turned up to eleven. What an absolute classic.
Sadly, Lon Chaney Junior never really escaped his father’s shadow. His career was stuck in the stereotypical rut of second- or third-rate horror films. His last film, Dracula vs. Frankenstein, was a catastrophic flop. Lon’s later years were marked with alcoholism and various illnesses, until 1973 when he passed away from a heart attack. The tortured lycanthrope finally found rest.
As a child I vividly remember watching those classic black and white films on TV every Saturday afternoon at lunchtime, laying on the orange shag carpet of my living room. I remember the simplicity of those classic Universal monster films, the fear and excitement as Lon resurrected the Frankenstein Monster on-screen, or chased down a woman he grew too close to as the Wolfman, or stumbled about as the Mummy, or bared his fangs as Count Alucard (Dracula). Though these films may seem crude by modern film standards, they are forever fresh and exciting for me – they are the building blocks of today’s films. And Lon, rest in peace.
Hopeful Settling of the Mud
In my previous blog, I tackled the horrendous task of describing computers and their native language, Binary. I walked away from the scuffle feeling like I did not do the topic justice. So here again is Binary, this time using fun light switch pictures (thanks to our good friend, Mr. Photoshop). For this example, we’ll use only four bits or integers or light switches. Remember, we get the total by adding the “on” bits from right to left.
All bits are off, the value is 0
The first bit is on, all others are off, the value is 1.
The second bit is on, all others are off, the value is 2.
The first and second bits are on, all others are off, the value is 1+2=3.
The second and fourth bits are on, all others are off, the value is 2+8=10
All bits are on, the value is 1+2+4+8=15. To go any higher than this (ie. 16) we would need another bit. This shows the reason for the doubling of bit values from right to left.
And so on, and so forth. You are bored and drooling on yourself, how embarrassing. I’ll stop now.
Next Up on the Blog
So for any of you who have a stop watch, I have pretty much blown the timeliness of this blog. It wasn’t written in stone, but the goal was to post within 24 hours of each other. That way, you could get a his-and-hers perspective of whatever is currently going on in the Domicile. But I pretty much blew it. Pooky has been kind, but I’ve noticed an increased frequency of “did you blog yet?” questions. So that said, I’ll post what I have now, and save more for later. I want to wade deeper out into the murky waters of technology into the area of a home network and what it is. I’ll introduce a cool word called “Stub Network” and what that means. And as always, I’ll try to relate to Homeschool as a Homeschool Widow… er, Homeschool Dad. That would make a great topic in and of itself – how do you, as a couple, make time for each other amidst the maelstrom of the school year? Are you two ships passing in the night just long enough to crank out another baby to Homeschool?
*Disclaimer: Please realize this advice is meant to be “tongue in cheek,” not to provoke hate mail or death threats. Hopefully, you can relate to having done some pretty crazy things as a parent and can have a good laugh at my expense. Yes, this advice is taken from my own actual parenting experience and is many times just plain wrong. No, I will not be winning the mother of the year award. Yes, I realize lightning might strike me at any moment. Please read this post before continuing, and only attempt to follow this advice at your own risk. Results may vary.
“Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best…” Hebrews 12: 10
I have two young children (3 and 5 years old) who make lunchtime miserable. They scream at each other the entire mealtime, and my 5 year old will not sit still long enough to eat 2 bites! Please help!
Hungry, Harried Mama
Dear Hungry, Harried Mama,
Separate these children! Divide and conquer. I know you want to work on their character. But you are together all day long, so there will be plenty of other opportunities for that.
First, I recommend acquiring two booster chairs with seatbelt straps and trays. (A cheaper alternative would be using a belt to strap them firmly to the dining room chair, but somehow that sounds even more wrong.) You may think your children are far too old for high chairs, but they’re not. Put the two booster chairs in separate rooms, preferably with each one facing a television playing that particular child’s favorite TV show or video. Strap each child securely in a chair (yes, they can get out on their own, but strapping them in keeps them from immediately jumping out of the chair and gives them a feeling of security which is especially helpful for ADHD and autism spectrum kids). Now give each child the food of their preference (something you know they will eat—do NOT under any circumstance try to force a picky eater to eat the food you made for the entire family or insist you are not a short-order cook—just give them what they like), then grab yourself a sandwich and a bowl of ice cream and sit quietly in the room of your choice. You deserve a break from the madness of the day and disciplining those two little whippersnappers.
After following this prescription for 3 months, try sitting them at the table together again for a meal. See how it goes. If they start screaming again or will not sit still, go back to the separate room scenario for another 3 months. Repeat until they are mature enough to sit at a table together and eat like reasonable human beings.
Do not be concerned about instilling bad habits. You are not breaking any commandments or scriptural laws here. The children will most likely grow out of it. My oldest 2 children received this method of mealtime discipline for several years when they were younger. They now both have perfectly respectable (well, at least passable) table manners, eat most foods served to them, and are fabulous conversationalists. I have two younger children who are following the separate-room scenario right now, and I have full confidence that they will grow up to be fine, upstanding citizens. As a bonus, I have survived their childhood so far with my sanity mostly intact and without the aid of medication.
Best of luck,
Secret Confessions of a Home School Dad
News flash: It is August. And I’ll confess that I’m one of those calendar-challenged individuals, who expects something mystical to happen when a calendar is flipped upwards and a new month arrives. So when I awaken on the first of the month and discover that the birds are still chirping the same song as yesterday, I kind of forget. I personally believe this is hereditary, as my five-year old son still thinks he is four, as being five feels no different from four. It’s a brilliant strategy, in my opinion. I could utilize this strategy and remain in denial of my fast arriving birthday in three weeks, thus spinning my age into a new frightening number that ends in zero. But I digress.
My typical confusion over dates is further complicated in that I spend some measure of time daydreaming about time travel and the butterfly effect. What if Chuck Norris traveled back to the time of Genesis and tried to roundhouse kick Snake Satan in the choppers? Would the kick connect, or miss and knock over the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? The whole concept makes my head spin. So anyhow, I digress again. Stay on target…. Squirrel! To say “Hey it’s August” really doesn’t hold a lot of sway for me. But if you were to say “Hey homeschool is starting up soon” well that is a different matter altogether.
Subtle Signs and Symptoms of August
For starters, there has been a lot less money in the bank and a whole lot more heavy boxes arriving in the mail. To save tedious check writing, I may just as well turn over my entire paycheck to Amazon and the Home School Resource Center. Another not so subtle sign is that Pooky has been sleeping less and fretting more over strange words like “omnibus” which, to me, sounds like a cool Transformers robot. I had no idea she was so into cool stuff like that, I assume it transforms from a textbook into a fretful spouse. The kids are showing strange symptoms as well – instead of reading Harry Potter, Narnia, or Percy Jackson books for the forty-second time, my daughter can be found reading Frankenstein, Pride and Prejudice, and the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.
It’s the first flutter of contractions, soon we’ll give birth to insanity.
I’m not a fancy man by any stretch of the imagination. Sure, some things have to be just right. For example, an off tune guitar string on a G Major strum sets my teeth on edge. Don’t ever tell me Greedo shot first. And you can’t be an Orc Mage Paladin, you can only be a Mage OR a Paladin. You know, the kind of stuff that really matters in life. So in a few weeks, when a boxed macaroni and cheese dinner comes out on paper plates at 7:00 PM, I won’t throw it against the wall. And when I curl up in bed alone while Pooky sits downstairs at the dining room table, grading unnatural math problems that contain letters AND numbers (preposterous), I won’t stomp my feet. You know why?
Parenting Is Hard Work
We made a decision some years ago that homeschool was the best choice for our school-aged daughter. There were a ton of reasons why, and now, twenty seven kids later (it seems like it, anyway – they never stay still long enough to do a proper count) we’re still going strong. This year, our five year old enters the fray, and call it a hunch but I think he’ll do just fine. There is no cookie cutter approach, you find what works for each kid on each particular day. Therein lies the value in homeschooling for us, and that is worth a thousand boxed macaroni and cheese dinners.
Computer Stuff to Make Your Brain Hurt
OK, so I promised I’d give you a groundwork in computer networking before I wind up at the beefier topics of content filtering. So here goes.
An electronic device for storing and processing data, typically in binary form, according to instructions given to it in a variable program.
By this very loose definition, your Dell Tower is obviously a computer. Your Macbook Air is also a computer. Your iPod and Zune are computers. The Samsung Galaxy and iPhone are computers. Your smart television that stores your Netflix Password and plays back episodes of the Office? That’s right, a computer.
And what about this? Chances are, you have something like this hanging on your ‘fridge. Is this a computer?
That’s right, it is a computer. Look closely at the green base where you stick the letters – do you see the input buttons?
Think of that like the mouse or keyboard – it’s the user interface where you enter commands. Our little green friend (Star Wars reference, sorry) just hangs out on the fridge, waiting expectantly for us to provide it with input so it can provide us with its pre-programmed output.
Now look at the letters – notice they have little notches that coincide with specific buttons on the base?
Each letter has a combination of notches that, when pressed into the base, issue a specific command to the computer. The computer then regurgitates the coinciding stored data, based on the input. Now I’ll nerd out on you and tell you that I once documented all the binary combinations for each letter that came with this Leap Frog Fridge Letter Kit. Impressed? More likely, you’re wondering “sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln, this guy needs help”. You’re not too far off. So anyway, computers are everywhere, and they communicate based on one’s and zero’s – a language called Binary or Base 2. It’s either on (one) or off (zero). By comparison, our numeration system utilizes the numbers 0 through 9, called decimal or Base 10. Here is the binary equivalent for the letter C on our fridge toy:
Think of Binary as a row of light switches. If the switch is up, it’s on and counts. If it’s down, it’s off and does not count. Binary reads from right to left, and each “switch” or bit doubles each potential value for each button, as follows: 32-16-8-4-2-1. Since we only have six notches or buttons, we’ll stop the math there. To get the Binary equivalent, you just add up the numbers that are in the on position (or taking the light switch analogy, are up) to get the total. So if you add the on positions in the letter C above from right to left, you get 32+16+0+0+2+0=50. This plastic C calls out “50” which the computer then interprets and responds “C SAYS KUH. C SAYS KUH. EVERY LETTER MAKES A SOUND, C SAYS KUH.” So now you have a basic understanding of Binary, though I imagine it’s about as clear as a cup of mud. Have you ever seen the nerdy t-shirt for sale on ThinkGeek (best online store ever) that says this?
Now does it make sense? Do the Binary conversion from right to left for the on bits – 10 equals 0+2 = 2. If it were 11, we’d do the math as follows – both bits are on so you add 1+2=3. Get it? And free advice for my wife and kids – my birthday is coming up in a few weeks. Any gift from Thinkgeek is an instant epic win.
So now we know the world around us is full of computers, and they communicate in a language of one’s and zero’s called Binary. Ultimately all computers take an input and regurgitate something based on that input, as determined by the programmer who set it up. Now that we’ve covered that, I’m sure your brain hurts. My throat is sore from explaining it, and I’m not even talking. Shall I stop here? Because the next step is studying how computers communicate with each other: Networking.
I do a lot of things wrong as a parent. Some days, I am pretty sure I do everything wrong. Sporadically though, I do a few things that turn out okay.
What constantly amazes me is how my best laid plans fall all the way apart. I try so hard to do the proper thing to get the proper result, and it just doesn’t work. My pride takes a beating.
Conversely, I do something tragically wrong, and God completely redeems the situation. Everything turns out sunshine and roses.
I have a feeling this is by design.
I try to remind myself of this every time I start to worry about disciplining my preschoolers the right way, or I try to pick the perfect homeschool curriculum, or my children (or I myself) embarrass me publically.
I also remind myself of this when I get advice from other moms. Some advice might seem spectacular, but when I attempt to follow it, I crash and burn. Other advice might seem crazy, but ends up being awesome. That’s my favorite kind of advice.
In fact recently, I received some advice that I was sure I would never ever endeavor. A dear family friend who has raised 4 amazing kids (all adults now) shared some wisdom with me when I asked her how to handle a particular discipline issue. I confessed to her that my 3 year old and 5 year old were constantly hitting and pushing each other and generally making each other miserable. She, in a very sincere and serious voice, advised me that I should teach them the “golden rule:” When one child hits the other, I should supervise while having the other child hit the first offender back.
What??!! That’s just crazy! I’m sorry, but that just sounded demented to me.
Well, a few days later, I was at my wits end, so I gave it a whirl. And guess what? It wasn’t nearly the disaster I thought it would be. I’ve actually continued with it for a few weeks now, and it’s working fairly well. We’re having far fewer physical encounters. Most shockingly, the kids really do not often take justice into their own hands. They usually come to me and ask if they should hit (or push or poke) the offender back. Seriously! And they don’t seem to enjoy giving the payback–well, at least not much.
I am dumbfounded!
Now keep in mind, you might undertake this same advice with no success. But then again, you never know.
Ergo, in response to this totally unexpected triumph, I am going to start an advice column. I’m calling it “Dear Pooky: Unorthodox Parenting Advice from a Mother of 5.” I will dedicate the occasional blog post to sharing some pretty wacky advice—all derived from nutty things I’ve done as a parent that have actually turned out pretty well.
Be on the lookout for the first “Dear Pooky” post. It’s coming soon.
Prepare to be aghast. Prepare to be dismayed. Prepare to maybe even be amazed. Because sometimes crazy advice is the best advice.
The Essential Oils Party Recap from a Male Perspective
All the discussion in Pooky’s blog post about cleaning is indeed accurate – approximately three hours before the start of the party, I was tearing apart the vacuum cleaner to determine why it wasn’t eating dirt. With the aid of some needle nose pliers, I discovered a flashlight jammed up inside one of the tubes, wrapped in a warm comfy blanket of dust bunnies and 200mg ibuprofin tablets. And the thing she said about the basement? Images of the Death Star compactor scene come to mind. Beware the Dianoga.
But apart from the cleaning, it went well. The kids were fairly well behaved and stayed out of sight and out of mind. Many thanks to my buddy Darth Joe for helping keep the kids entertained. Our house still smells faintly of essential oils, which is to say it smells like a dump truck full of candy canes stalled on the train tracks and was annihilated by a runaway train full of cloves and cinnamon. I haven’t had a headache all day, either. Look, I was first in line thinking essential oils were slightly below voodoo and shrunken heads on the legitimacy scale. But the stuff works wonders, I’m particularly hooked on Peppermint for headaches and the Breathe for my asthma. I was a skeptical customer, but I’m sold.
The Need for Geeks
After the oil party, I was deep in tech support mode explaining why Minecraft kept crashing on someone’s laptop due to Java errors. The culprit preventing the Java Update was K9, by Blue Coat. A rather excellent freeware program to do content filtering on a computer. Or to say it a different way, to keep crud off the computer. The problem with K9 is it tends to get a little over-aggressive in blocking things, much like AVG Free Antivirus. In this case, blocking Java Updates, which by any stretch of the imagination is undesirable. The next logical question that came up was “well, what else can I do?”
So I’ll make it my goal for the next few blog entries to go over some strategies and technologies to keep the armpit of the Internet out of your home. The problem with this, from a technical perspective? You need some background before you tackle this issue. And giving full rein to my ADD, this reminds me of CS Lewis.
How CS Lewis Would Probably Approach Content Filtering on the Internet
In the masterpiece work Mere Christianity, Lewis discusses… well… Christianity. But to reach that level, he first starts at morality, and progresses from there to human nature and so on, until he finally reaches Christianity through a logical progression. It made little sense for him to jump right into the deep end of Salvation without first discussing the ground work for sin and the necessity of salvation. And before that, what really is sin? What of morality? In other words, he had to cover the foundation before setting up the building.
I found this true in my own life as well. Long before I saw my need for a savior, I wondered if there was anything supernatural in this world – something beyond that which I could see or feel or touch. The home I grew up in was at one time a funeral home, and suffice to say, there was ample evidence that something existed well beyond the natural world. Something that made bumps in the night and shut cats in kitchen cupboards for sport. It was relatively simple for me to cover that first base before moving on to the second. Through this long journey of sorting out the supernatural, I was led ultimately to the cross of Christ. For the sake of brevity, I’ve kept this short and sweet, but it was a long journey full of geeky questions like “why” and “how” and “what about this?”
And so back to our topic at hand – to address content filtering and the Internet and Computers and the like, I could just tell you to click on this and download that, then go about your day. But it won’t work. If you don’t understand technology, you will never control technology. And before your very eyes, it will consume your children like a very hungry caterpillar. You have to lay the ground work of the Internet and Computers before you can control the Internet and Computers. Does that make sense? I hope that it does. So that is my goal. I’ll start very soon, as I’ve blathered on and on enough already.
On Blogging and Insecurity
Within the 24 hours of our first blog posts, Pooky and I were found making statements such as these:
I’m so stupid. I can’t believe I said that. I’m never blogging again. People will think I’m an idiot. I sounded like a complete blathering windbag.
That last part was mine – I still feel like a long winded, blathering windbag. Pooky and I are offering our own life experiences to try and encourage, to edify, to build you up. But being real and vulnerable is a frightening thing. I’m often faced with this reality – that the greatest achievements in my life are almost as significant as a deer tick passing gas deep in the forest. But if they can help you, then here they are. This reminds me of a sign a coworker once had –
If that were God’s plan for you, would it be enough?
From the Mouth of Babes
This from my five-year old: “Daddy, are the lights on the front of cars called face lights?” “No”, I explained, “they are called head lights”. After a moment of meditation on this new revelation, he asked “then are the lights on the back of the cars called butt lights?”
The Wrong Information to give Daddy
This from my thirteen-year old: “Oh Daddy, I just heard the most irritating song, ever! I hope I never hear it again!” Now I have a ready-made method to ensure compliance. Won’t clean your room? Looks like it’s a marathon of this irritating song looping again, and again, and again…
A Cool Tech Tip for Windows 7 Users: God Mode
1. Copy the following:
2. Right-click on your computer desktop and select New / Folder.
3. Paste the name of the folder that you just copied in step one.
4. Open the folder and enjoy some of the most awesome shortcuts available, ever.
I wish I were one of those people whose house is always 5 minutes from being “company ready.” Unfortunately, I am not. My house is more like 5 days from being “company ready.” It’s amazing how much effort it is for me to get ready for a group of people to come over. I wish I just didn’t care. I wish I didn’t feel the need to have the kitchen clean and to dust under the furniture and to relocate the piles of clutter and toys. I clean the main living area like a crazy person. I hide the playpen and baby paraphernalia. I stash away the multitude of shoes that usually graces our dining room.
The living room, dining room, and kitchen may look fairly presentable in the end, but woe to you who opens the closet or cabinet door! Beware the upstairs bedrooms with their inches of dust and unmade beds! Shun the upstairs bathrooms with layers of soap scum and traces of mildew! Certain death awaits anyone who dares descend the basement stairs!
I have mostly given up trying to clean the entire house for guests, but I do still obsess over the main living areas. And, so, I rarely invite people over because it’s just too much effort. I know it’s wrong—I’ve read all the books. Supposedly, I should either keep up with housework better or stop caring what people think. I hear that true friends won’t mind the mess, and I should strive to be hospitable. Alas, I have very few people that I feel comfortable inviting into my “everyday” house. They are usually the people I know have similar “everyday houses,” too. Sigh.
While it was a tremendous effort to prepare for this weekends’ get-to-gether, I had a blast! I hosted my first essential oils class last night! It was so great! My friend Heather has such an incredible testimony of how God has led her to turn her family’s health around by changing their diet and using essential oils. I’m nowhere near adopting a healthy diet right now, but I have jumped on the essential oils bandwagon because, quite simply, they work. I started out an avid skeptic, but after trying essential oils for myself, I’m sold. Our family has experienced fabulous success using oils for our allergies, asthma, headaches, stomach aches, indigestion, yeast infections, muscle pain, and more! I started out thinking any successes HAD to be placebo effect. The human mind is a powerful thing. But after many repeated successes with multiple people in our household, I am convinced it is more than a mind trick. And I was very excited to share all this with friends!
All in all, I always have a grand time when we finally make the effort to entertain. But I’m still not quite sure what I am supposed to learn here. Is it to clean more OR care less?