Sunday, February 22, 2009

Vacations I Want to Take

Cape Town, South Africa is apparently a bargain to visit now. As a former study abroad resident of the beautiful city reading this article makes me drool, just a little. I'm not even sure the article does justice to the sheer beauty and cultural diversity that is Cape Town, South Africa. The article boasts having fun for less than $300 US dollars a day. This mere $300 includes a car, hotel, food, and various athletic type activities. 

As a less than athletic individual I managed to have fun without hiking or riding a bicycle. I might have been able to have fun for $250 a day! In fact, you can have fun just walking around, going to the markets and looking at the beautiful architecture that almost blends in with the mountains. 

While you are there, make sure you do something that might be a little harder to stomach. While South Africa is often over looked because it has taken such strides towards equality considering the end of Apartheid there are still a lot of fundamental inequalities in the country. Namely, education is still suffering. Go visit the townships, and try, as hard is it might be, to not act like a tourist and to actually see the way people live (I recommend not wearing a big camera around your neck and taking pictures of strangers). Go to small restaurants and talk to people, they are very friendly and the food is just as good as the nicer restaurants (none of which I've ever been to) that the article boasts. Go to Robben Island and listen to the personal story of your tour guide, see where Mandela slept, and try to wrap your head around a complicated history. Leave the city and see what the country side is like. It is much cheaper to stay in a single room along the backpacking routes than in Cape Town and equally interesting.

I know a vacation is supposed to be fun, but I find it impossible to imagine visiting this historic city without taking in some of the reality of life in South Africa. There is beauty and pain in South Africa and it would not be fair to yourself to not experience a little bit of both.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Sendak Surprise

I have for some time now been quite fascinated with Maurice Sendak. His art, words, and even his speeches have moved me to find deeper meaning in what so many people consider a trivial field. Imagine my surprise as I was browsing at Strand to find a Sendak book I had not heard or, or at least one I had never read. 

How Little Lori Visited Times Square by Amos Vogel and illustrations by Maurice Sendak stood out to me from a section of New York inspired books at 9 pm on a Friday night. I'm always surprised by each Sendak book I look at. The continuity of his illustrations and the themes that carry over from book to book strike me each time. Sendak, as many of you might know, is from New York, and the detail that he pays to each feature of New York life is spectacular. 

Also, the main character looks like Max...not that I'm surprised. 

So, if you are from New York, a Sendak lover, or just like a good kids book go pick up...

How Little Lori Visited Times Square by Amos Vogel pictures by Maurice Sendak

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Researching the obvious

"Recess Found to Improve Behavior"

Duh. Did you know that breathing is found to improve breathing and drinking water to improve thirst? You know what some of the stimulus plan for education should go to... building playgrounds in inner city schools. 

Let's do an experiment, give half of the schools money to set up data systems and half of the schools money to build playgrounds and see which one has happy well functioning students who are behaving well enough to learn new content. I would put a lot of money on the playground.

I started paying for the internet....I'm back.