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Education

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New Frontiers in Home Schooling

December 15, 2016

Boston, Massachusetts – Ever since Massachusetts issued the first compulsory education law in 1789, many parents have attempted to justify the reasons for home schooling their children: escalating violence in public schools, cutting down on gasoline for the SUV, freedom to teach religious beliefs, getting more yard work out of their kids, better quality of instruction and having someone around to fetch them beer. But, the parents of 15-year -old Ornice Bartimeus have chosen a more creative approach to educating their only son.

“We were concerned,” said Adelia Bartimeus, Ornice’s mother. “We wanted Ornice to experience all of the benefits of home schooling without sacrificing any of the important social aspects of attending a large public school.” To do so, the Bartimeus’ came up with a unique approach to making Ornice’s experiences at home mirror those he would have at a public institution.

Like other children, Ornice’s school day begins at 3:45 A.M. After donning his school uniform (a blue blazer over Orkin Termite Control overalls and rubber hip boots), he trundles downstairs for a hearty feast of waffles, chicken livers and grits. “After breakfast, I pack a bag full of his favorite treats and brush him out the door,” says Adelia. “We make Ornice walk a half mile down County Road 109 in the rain to wait for the bus driven by Ornice’s father, Bertram.” As he approaches the bus, Bertram speeds away, making Ornice late for school. read more

All Entries Education Family Home Life Humor Medicine

Monkey in a Pink Canoe

December 11, 2016

“Where did I come from?” asked Shadrach as we pulled up to his football game at Fleigenbaum Field. Having never been married, I thought I’d be exempt from ever having this discussion with a 6-year-old quarterback, so I never put much thought into what I’d say if asked. Looks like I was going to have to punt.

“Well, Shadrach, each month, in one of your mommy’s two ovaries, a few immature eggs develop into follicles. The mature follicle releases an egg during ovulation, which turns into the corpus luteum. Progesterone prepares the endometrium in anticipation of the embryo. Then, your daddy’s sperm travels up the fallopian tube where it fertilizes your mommy’s egg, mixing her X chromosomes with his Y chromosomes to create a zygote and blastocyst. Thanks to Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin, nine months later you were born!”

“I just meant what town was I born in?” said Shadrach. “Meshach said it was Toledo, but Abednego thinks it was Cleveland.”

Since I’d already opened the door to the wonders of human reproduction, Shadrach had me cornered for “the discussion.” Evidently, neither of his parents wanted to get involved. I don’t blame them. My father never sat me down, either. Instead, he just sent me into my bedroom with a stack of National Geographics and told me to figure it out myself. I learned the rest from Tommy Flugelman while walking to school. read more

All Entries Education Food & Recipes Home Life Humor

Betty Crocker Means Good Nutrition

November 11, 2016

As a rambunctious kid growing up in southern California, I was lucky enough to live at home under the loving dictatorship of two middle-income parents. In exchange for a few menial tasks like mowing the lawn, pulling weeds and cleaning out the septic tank, my parents gave me a comfortable place to live, a weekly allowance and home cooked meals.

After I joined the Navy, it still didn’t dawn on me that I couldn’t cook. Why would it? Every day at five o’clock, we sauntered over to the mess hall, grabbed a dented aluminum tray, a knife and a spork and stood in line for whatever slop they were pushing on us that night. We spent the rest of the evening debating over exactly what it was that we just ate and how bad it tasted. But at least I didn’t have to prepare it.

It wasn’t until several years later that I had to figure out how to feed myself. By the end of my tour of military duty, I was too old to go back home and couldn’t afford a personal chef, so I was on my own. I’d either have to get married, learn how to cook or wither away to nothing. read more

All Entries Education Humor

The Scourge of Notre Dame

July 7, 2016

“I will not throw chalk at Nathan Pickler’s head. I will not throw chalk at Nathan Pickler’s head. I will not throw chalk at Nathan Pickler’s head.” And so on and so on.

After cutting up and looking for ways to continually push the envelope, you’d think that I would have learned my lesson by now: don’t get caught throwing chalk at the back of Nathan Pickler’s head. But I did, so there I was standing at a blackboard in a nearly deserted classroom two hours after all my friends had gone home. At Notre Dame High School, they called it detention. At other penal institutions, it’s known as incarceration, detainment or being sent up the river.

I found myself attending Notre Dame by once again blindly following in my brother’s footsteps. It wasn’t the first time. Nor would it be the last. As a misguided 9th grader, there was something alluring about attending a private, all-boy Catholic high school run by the Brothers of the Holy Cross – sort of like getting accepted for SEAL training when you’re 14 years old. Compared to other schools, Notre Dame was not only harder to get into, it was more difficult to stay out of trouble once you got there. But the Brothers did the best they could by introducing us to a life of spirituality, human compassion and frequent doses of corporal punishment. read more

All Entries Education Home Life Humor

Hand Gestures

June 7, 2016

Late last night, I was yanked away from the season finale of “The Desperate Lives of Atlanta Housewives” by an urgent knock on the door. It was Ping.

Ping recently emigrated from Thailand and is boning up for his citizenship examination by taking English lessons. Taking pity on anyone having to learn English as an adult, I graciously volunteered to help tutor him with the nuances they never teach you in language school.

“If you really want to fit into the fabric of American society,” I told Ping, “You’ll have to learn American slang and the thousands of grunts, hand signs, gestures and sounds we Americans use to take the place of the 500,000 proper English terms we’ve dropped since learning to speak our first words. Like the Check Please gesture.

The Check Please gesture originated in the U.S., but has rapidly spread to every corner of the globe. Effective in the smallest bodega to the ritziest eatery, the gesture is used when you’re ready to leave and want the waiter to bring you your check – now. Start by thrusting your arm into the air and snapping your fingers repeatedly until you get their attention. Follow this by pretending to hold a writing implement and make a squiggly motion with your hand. Simple, but useful, the Check Please gesture has managed to erode centuries of respect and decorum, when people used to have enough class to wait patiently for their waiter to come by and inquire about the service, and ask if they would care for anything else? read more

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