Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April, so far

I've had a cold for two weeks that I can't seem to shake, so I've been lying low, and was starting to feel like I hadn't been doing much. But when I actually wrote down what I've been doing it sounds like a pretty jam-packed couple of weeks! Here's what we've been up to around here:

Our DirecTV subscription ran out last week so we hurried up and got Netflix. So far Mama has been watching Miami Vice and Monk, and I've had The Simpsons season 5 and Animaniacs season 1, and we both watched O Brother Where Art Thou the other night. I've been loving the "watch instantly online" feature too, which I've mostly been using to watch documentaries. I've watched ones on Jefferson (that was a really good Ken Burns one), Lincoln, the Dark Ages, evolution, polio, and Mount Rushmore, and something called "The American Hobo". Right now I'm also making some plans to set up an old computer in the living room so my mom can watch Netflix online and Hulu, since it's not fair that I have more to watch when she likes TV more than I do.

I've been having fun on Youtube lately, watching the "literal video versions" of old music videos. If you haven't seen this it's where people take songs (usually from the 80s) and record new lyrics that describe what's happening in the video. They're really funny. I've also been watching a lot of Neil Cicierega and Dan Brown (not the Da Vinci code guy). From Dan Brown's channel I've learned how to solve a Rubik's cube using algorithms. I'd never known what an algorithm was before, but in a context where I'm actually using it it was really easy to grasp.

Since Roni is studying speech pathology we've had a lot of interesting conversations about language and linguistics and phonetics. We've talked about a lot of cool stuff like how some languages only have a few color words and how the accents of different English-speakers vary. (Interestingly, though I'm almost as far south in the US as you can get, I sound more like the Canadian accent on there.) I've also been trying, without a lot of luck, to get an idea of what American accents sounded like before the 20th century. This recording of Theodore Roosevelt certainly displays an accent nobody today would have, but it's hard to tell if the average person spoke with the same kind of accent. I imagine aristocrats like the Roosevelts probably sounded different from, say, people on farms. Whoops, I'm supposed to be telling you what I've been up to and I'm nerding out instead ;)

Oh! I downloaded Google Earth, which has recently added some cool new features, including the ability to look at what places looked like in the past (not far in the past, it only goes back to 1948 and everything before about 1994 is blurry, but still), and maps of Mars and the night sky.

I bought a lap harp which I've been playing a bit, and I've also played the piano some and watched some fingerstyle guitar videos on Youtube. I've also explored different music and made a playlist of my favorite songs from childhood.

I looked through my coin collection, and while I was trying to find part of it I got into some old letters my uncle (who died in 1962, when he was 20) wrote to my grandparents while he was in the army. I didn't learn much about him except that he needed money from them a lot, but hey, he was a young adult and that's what we do when we're away from home :p

I went to the beach and the ecological park.

I've played Oregon Trail and read a really funny Let's Play fanfic-type thing based on it.

I've been building houses on The Sims 2 and downloading a lot of custom content for it.

I got Mama to play Katamari Damacy and Singstar with me.

I've read lots of articles on The Straight Dope and Cracked.

I've read about the history of Unitarianism, specifically as it relates to the presidents and founding fathers. I feel a lot more confident knowing it's been around so long and that such notable people (including John, Abigail and John Quincy Adams) were Unitarian. (I've also been saddened by the fact that a Unitarian could probably never get elected today, nor could Jefferson or Lincoln, who weren't affiliated with any religion. But I digress.)

I've posted a lot on RUN and the Ask Unschooling Offspring list, and I also joined River City Unschoolers which meets once a week. Hopefully I'll be able to go to the meetup tomorrow, if my sinuses will behave.

Roni and I looked through the Fat Brain Toys website and showed each other stuff we thought was cool. From there I started getting some ideas for designing a board game, and I've also started working on building a marble run. I also discovered that I love to do crafts or other projects while listening to podcasts, TED talks or audio books.

I've been drawing mandalas again, and bought a big velvet poster to color.

And I gave myself a spontaneous haircut, which I haven't gotten a good picture of yet, and have been playing around with different combinations of hair and makeup.

Whew! That's a busy two weeks. What strikes me, looking over this, is how I couldn't possibly learn such a variety of different stuff in two weeks if I were in college. Some of the learning I've done here is on the level of major-specific courses, and there's no way I could learn this level of history, and philosophy, and linguistics, and music and art, and math, and geography, and astronomy, and computers, and biology... not all at once. And certainly not while having fun the entire time and being able to sleep and eat and talk to the people I care about anytime I want! Granted I don't get a degree this way, but I also don't go thousands of dollars into debt, and if anyone wants me to prove I know stuff they can sit and talk with me awhile.

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