Monday, November 30, 2009

A thought on copyright protection

You all know I'm interested in copyright and its limitations.

Every semester I end up asking students if I can use their papers, essays, or assignments as an example for my future classes. Almost every time, they agree wholeheartedly but choose to be anonymous.

I think it's interesting that they are more interested in contributing to the common good (and in the affirmation of their work that it entails) than they are in getting credit for it. This also means that no one has to feel singled out or embarrassed. Ideally, at least.

The primary motivation for creative work is to find readers for that creative work.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Picture interlude

Some great new pictures of the kids.

They went as Boowa and Kwala (kinda) for Halloween. Boowa and Kwala are from Thomas's favorite website. Julie pulled off her Kwala ears almost immediately, so she's really just a duck, but Thomas still thought she was Kwala.

Leaves are, apparently, amazing.

Full length of Julie's cute new dress.


After all that, this is no wonder.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Immunology for three year olds

Friday I had to take Thomas to a doctor in the twin cities. The ped specialty clinic there (where he goes for cardiology) was offering H1N1 vaccine for very high risk patients, so we were fortuitously able to get it. Unfortunately, Matt had reassured Thomas that this doctor visit would not include shots, so I had to explain to him why exactly we were getting one after all. I suppose I could have resorted to bribery, trickery, or because-I-said-so, but instead I decided to try science.

Not just science, of course. Science and storytelling.

"Well, did you know you have these munchy-munch cells in your body that like to eat germs?"

With seasonal monster impressions, I acted out the mission of these cells -- a term we conveniently left undefined, as I'm not sure Thomas is ready for cell theory -- to find all the cells in the body that are Not Thomas. When they find a cell that's Not Thomas, they know it's a germ, so they gobble it right up -- nom nom nom nom. But sometimes these cells need a little help knowing what kind of cells they're looking for, so we have medicine that gives them a heads-up about new germs that they might need to eat.

He was so enchanted by this cool fairy tale going on inside his body that he first declared that his shot "didn't hurt at all anymore," then clarified by stating that it was still working. We ended up play-acting germ-eating cells at Pizza Hut with a puppet I improvised out of a treat bag and his candy that he got that evening. (Puppet asks: "is this a germ?" Thomas says, squeaking with half-joking, half-real indignation, "No! That's my candy!" "Are you sure -- nom nom nom..." Squealing giggles.) I think half the kids in the restaurant were either covertly or overtly watching this. So now I know how to explain the rest of his vaccines. Too bad it won't work on Julie yet.

Unfortunately, Thomas woke up today with a fever. I hope we didn't get that flu shot just a bit too late!

When I explain to Thomas these days, I'm astounded by how much he already knows. I already feel like we're just "filling in the gaps" -- we're grouting, not tiling, in his surface of world-knowledge. He can pull out relevant detail to fill in absolutely everything we try to tell him about, either from his real-life experience or from books. Amazing.