Archive for July, 2012

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

31 July, 2012

It’s been aboot a year since I borrowed Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother from my mother-in-law.

I loved the book, it was well written and fun adventure story, filled with humor, inspiration and real emotion. It’s taken me so long to review it, because I didn’t want to let the book down. I know, silly, huh? Well… read it. It’s awesome.  At least read the chapters “Popo” and “The Birthday Card*”.
First, it made me realize how lazy I am. Of course I want to be a driven parent, to drive my kids to succeed…but I’m lazy. Professor Chua, is in a very competitive and time consuming field, traveled for lectures & seminars, wrote two scholarly books, shuffled her children to many music lessons and competitions, and still had time to walk the dogs.

Her theory, children don’t naturally want to do the difficult. I’ve seen that for potty-training, cleaning room, putting away their bikes, taking dishes to sink…  I don’t know if I’m prepared to make them put in the work so that they excel in school.  Must learn to  be a hard ass. I do not want them to turn out like me.

Something I agree with, and will probably experience first hand, when she writes, “Nothing I hate more than…schools are constantly trying to make learning fun by having parents do all the work.” (pg 64)

I’ve had people ask me, attacking the TigerMom because they heard all the negative press about her, “but are the kids happy?”  Professor Chua counters that with

  • no proof that normal-USA style families are any happier (pg 101).
  • The worst thing you can do is let them give up when it’s difficult (pg 62).
  • That you can enjoy something more if you are good at it (pg 29) .
  • That success brings opportunities which gives you more freedom of choice (pg 132).


Seven things Tiger-mothers believe

  1. schoolwork always comes first – I agree
  2. an A-minus is a bad grade – I agree
  3. your children must be two years above their grade in math – I agree
  4. never compliment your children in public
  5. always side with teacher or coach
  6. only do activities that you can win a medal – funny, a co-worker is taking her sun to a cup-stacking championship in Texas
  7. that medal must be gold – disagree


Here’s a funny story, about how difficult it is to be good. Her eldest daughter, practiced piano for multiple hours every day for a dozen years… goes to a Professor of Piano at Yale. He listens, then gives her a stack of books to help her with techniques she is deficient in. Laughed.  Getting good is more than Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule, evidently!

I think the best support for her theory, comes from Saturday Night Live Weekend Update… they showed a tape of elementary schools across America singing an uplifting self-confidence-boosting song, and Seth Meyer’s finished with, “…meanwhile, a billion Chinese kids were doing math.”   Or maybe from Lewis Black, showing a video of a kid biking down a hill, up and over a ramp, and smack into the wall of a house. Lewis responded with, “you’re right, we don’t need geometry, with a little more self esteem, that kid could have made it.”

Life is gonna be tough for my childrens. And I gotta do my best to get them prepared. It used to be that a C average and HS diploma could get an American kid a decent job in a factory. Now, we have a couple billion ready to work harder, for more hours, and less pay.

America, we gotta remember how to put in the work in order to be the best. Luckily, we have a few parents like Amy Chua.

*Birthday card…just because something is acceptable gift for your mother when you are four, doesn’t mean it is OK to give her the same quality of gift when you are twelve. You need to put time into it, to show that you care. I am trying to do this…this past mother’s day, I took the childrens and we worked on a poster… not much, but the pre-schoolers did alright for their level. Now if I can be a good father, and encourage them to keep this up for all the following Mother’s Days and Birthdays.


the Hobbit

30 July, 2012

So….maybe around 4th grade, at a library in South Tacoma, I saw the cartoon version of The Hobbit. It was awesome. Even the cheezy “Greatest Adventure” song.

Well…I hear that Mr Peter Jackson will be making it into a three movie special effects extravaganza.


I sure the dragon will be beautiful, and the battles will be epic. But really? Do we really need to stretch a short children’s book into six hours of CGI?


29 July, 2012

Yesterday… we went to birthday party for third grader from church. MsSqueaky had made a necklace for the birthday girl, and when she opened it, she put it on right away, making MsS very happy.  MrGrunty was super thrilled to be playing soccer with the big kids, he was cheering when his team scored, fearless about running to the ball (I’m surprised he didn’t get kicked in the face), and was concentrating all the while, focused on the other team, big grin.  MrCuddles, took advantage of the fact there were lots of kids, and distracted parents, so he was always sneaking snacks to eat.   I played soccer a bit, on the girls team when they were outnumbered, and then later for the boys. I would have the team do a huddle, the kids then did a cheer.   MsSqueaky played a bit, but wasn’t really interested. (Later, she and the little sister chased me around the yard with snakes.)   By the end of the day, we had kicked three balls over fences… and then I did something foolish. I challenged the third graders to a game of freeze tag.    I am sore today. I didn’t have a chance against them.

Later, I was out playing what MsS called volleyball, but I think it was catch with a foam soccer ball. She had 10 and I had six points. So she won twice, she told me.  I was super happy that she did two sport things, for a decent amount of time. I really feel athletics, mind/body control, dexterity, are very important learning skills for kids. And are another avenue for social skills.

Today…  Church… talking about Jacob marrying Leah & Rachel.  Take away… who hasn’t felt like Jacob, the taken advantage of employee who doesn’t get what he was working for?  Who hasn’t felt like Leah, the one no one wants?  Like Laban, trying to control everything and it all ends unhappily?  Like Rachel, and not being able to have what you want most?”   (I’m noticing, Pastor Sandy will often get me to see through the eyes of a character, or see myself in them.  I never really knew that I can be like that “drama-queen” of Jonah!)

After lunch, I got a cookie. Offered one to MrCuddles. He took two. Ran away, and ran up stairs to his sister to give her a cookie.

Then off to Bainbridge Island for picnic/party of a co-worker’s lab.  I missed most of his lesson about his bee hives, because the childrens were too busy having a hay fight.  But later, I got to drive the tractor, and each of the childrens got a turn to drive and steer it. MyBetterHalf got to ask an endocrinologist about the character from Middlesex.

Alexandr Vinokurov congrats

28 July, 2012

Congratulations, Mr Alexandr Vinokurov.

MrGrunty and I were on the sofa, watching the Men’s Road Race. Thankfully they played the last 20km of the race without interruption. We were captivated, shocked and surprised by the crash near the end. Those athletes are brave. And, I like how the break away leaders need to use teamwork with the competitors to keep ahead of the pack.

Thrilling stuff.

I also am glad that MrG got to witness, and I also explained, that all the other riders after the race congratulated the winner.

I asked MrG if he wanted to be a bike racer.

“No, I want to be a baseball player.”


Now… my ranting…I really don’t wanna be sucked into watching the Olympics. One reason is that NBC is a stoopid network, …they just showed a time delayed swim qualifying heat. Why, because Micheal Phelps was in it. Look, congrats to Phelps, he’s amazing, but a qualifying heat doesn’t really qualify as high drama…(unless of course the favorite doesn’t qualify!)

However, NBC knows me…because after Mr Vinokurov’s win, they said, “next up, US Women’s Basketball…volleyball…”

11pm update

27 July, 2012

for the past couple of nights, 11pm, Oliver-kitty pounces on Sophie-kitty, she  screams, and yelps and hisses, and they run after each other knocking over stuff.


The Path of Carbon In Photosynthesis

26 July, 2012

The Path of Carbon In Photosynthesis

J.A. Bassham & M. Calvin (1957)

And…this book, short, fairly straight forward read, I’m not really the audience.

It’s a good review, love how they discuss the experiments and what conclusions they drew from each experiment.

Great quote, funny, yet instructive about the process of science:

“It is easy to understand how an investigator unfamiliar with these variations might have some difficulty in repeating the results of others working in this field.”  (pg 30)

The Fixx

25 July, 2012

Once upon a time… back in the 80s, one of my favorite bands was the Fixx. Some friends of mine will see the Fixx when they come to town soon, I don’t know if the band has a new album, or will simply be re-hashing the old hits. The lyrics were always vague enough to seem deep to a teenage boy, vocal melodies were simple enough but catchy,  I liked the atmosphere / sound landscapes the band built, and as I got older, I got impressed with the subtle awesomeness of the guitars.

Once upon a time…I was writing a letter to a friend I met at church-youth-camp, (same friend that I would be teaching “Elenor Rigby” to while coming home from said camp), trying to express how cool The Fixx was. Well…before I finished the letter (Yes, I had many of those half-written letters, sometimes I still find them!)  my parents, whilst on a cleaning-my-room/is-our-kid-on-drugs-investigation found the letter, and wanted to know about the band. Because, unbeknownst to me “a fix” was short for “drug fix”.   (I wasn’t very bright…in fact only within the past ten years did I understand what the pop 70s song, “Afternoon Delight” was about.)  I don’t remember what I told them, but I do remember being pissed about them going through my stuff.  Fast forward to ten years from now… will I go through my childrens things? Will I read their diaries?  I don’t think so…although, thanks to parents on TheFacebook/TheFLicker/TheTwitter/TheYouTube, kids today pro’lly have no concept of privacy.  I did let MyBetterHalf read my diary after I proposed to her. So she was warned, LOL!

Anyway… in my head right now…

Less Cities More Moving People”  love the vocal pleading of the chorus

Sunshine in the shade”   love the first verse, and would often loudly sing it in the hall ways at high school

I won’t have “Liner” in my head, because as much as I did like the song, once I spent a lonely summer working at the Crew House, where I had no radio, no friends, and only a small window over looking beautiful people playing on beautiful Lake Washington while I was stuck in a no-ventilation cock-roach infested, kitchen that was next to a freaking motherload of wasp colonies.  Hated that job.  And every time I had to get a new trash can liner, because the manager didn’t call them trash bags, the song “Liner” popped into my head.

“Secret Separation”  I love the hypnotic droning guitar… I swear Jamie West-Oram is just playing around with A major.  One of my guitar heroes, and no Wikipedia entry. How cool is that, in this day?

Driven Out – “now I’m driving in my car, I used to be able to walk this far. Now I turn out my lights, I used to be able to see at night. Cooking with microwaves, to heat my food that hasn’t seen the soil. Turn on my TV, I used to the lies they’re telling me…”

Outside – from my favorite album, and vocals are the weakest part of this hypnotic (did I say that again?) piece, but I have memorized the guitar solo – where Jamie shows that new-wave dudes like the wammy-bar too, it’s almost like the band left him alone in the studio, to put a few finishing touches, and he just went crazy with snippets that don’t belong together, but the solo as a whole… beautiful.


Photosynthesis – Silverstein, Silverstein, Nunn

24 July, 2012

Photosynthesis: Science Concepts 

by Alvin Silverstein, Virginia Silverstein & Laura Silverstein Nunn (2008)

Looks like the book, written for a 5th grade audience, was a family affair. That’s cool. Maybe I’ll author books someday with my family.

It was alright, and naturally a quick and easy read. But I asked MyBetterHalf if I could count it as a book, her answer, “if it’s on goodreads.”

I wish, when I was a kid there were more books like this, short but focused, instead of big old textbooks that try to cover everything superficially. (Maybe there were, and I was too busy day dreaming.)

One phrase bothers me though, “Other living things that are similar to plants but are not green, such as mushrooms…”  (pg 18) .  Wait. Mushrooms are just as closely related to animals as to plants.  Oh…Now I see that both book and article published in 2008. The authors are forgiven…but kid, remember, science changes.


23 July, 2012

Just for the record, we have beds for the childrens and MsSqueaky has her own room, and the parents are now sleeping down in the dungeon. (We’ll move to the loft in winter time.)

Tonight, they all three are sleeping on the floor in MsSqueaky’s room.



22 July, 2012

Nope, I didn’t spend the day doing chores like MyBetterHalf did yesterday.

After church, we went to TwinPonds to meet up with some future kindergartners. I am so nervous meeting new people.

Tonight, at a different park, me & MrGrunty were playing baseball…and another boy & his dad joined us. So it’s not so bad meeting new people if you have something that you are doing….but just starting off with small talk. Not so much fun for me.

Hoping my childrens have better social skills than I do.