Monthly Archives: June 2012

And I say… weird is good

“… Okay, you say it’s weird. And I say weird is good. People who show originality openly, without fear, are people I admire. And people I stand up for.”

“… When people say I’m okay because I’m not as bad as [XYZ Person]. That is such an awful way to control someone. How am I supposed to respond. Be glad you’re not going to treat me like we were in high school and I was the weird guy you can get away with abusing? Or go ahead and say what I think and let you be the asshole you just said you would be if I said something that wasn’t from a cookie cutter.”

Dave Winer

Life is too short to worry about stuff like that. It’s too bad it comes up. We’re all gonna die people, let’s get some work done! And have fun!

I would just like to add that some things that people think are radical or weird are simply not if you step back from 2012 and/or Massachusetts for a second. For example, the school we send our 4 and 7 year old to — Sudbury Valley School — might seem unusual to people who are used to schools in the context of 2012 USA. But if you step back and think BIG about concepts like HUMAN RIGHTS and THE HUMAN CONDITION, and start asking some questions like “what did people do for school in the 1800s?” and “what is school actually for?” (preparing to become effective adults in the society), then one might start to realize that, if anything, it’s most other schools that are unusual.

Our our house. With 16″ inches of insulation in the walls instead of the standard (none to 6″). It seems very very normal to me.

Or nutritarian eating (ala Dr Joel Fuhrman and others). It’s 49 weeks on the NYTimes bestseller list and is now #1. Do you think most people in the US 2012 eat this way?

That’s just three examples, but it seems to crop up a lot.

The Power of the Particular David Brooks

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Filed under contrarian, erik-green, person: Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

New to me: HSSSE — The High School Survey of Student Engagement


“Over four years of HSSSE survey administrations, student responses have been very consistent regarding boredom. In a pool of 275,925 students who responded to this question from 2006 to 2009, 65% reported being bored at least every day in class in high school; 49% are bored every day and 16% are bored every class. Only 2% reported never being bored.”

“More than one out of four students (27%) have been picked on or bullied either “Sometimes” or “Often”; approximately one in five students (20%) have picked on or bullied other students either “Sometimes” or “Often.””

“The most pervasive theme in the student responses to Question 35 is that there is no point to taking surveys like this. Students feel that their ideas don’t matter, nobody in school listens to students, no action will be taken based on the responses to the survey, and there are too many surveys administered to students.”

From the 2009 report

Instead? Sudbury Valley School or

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Filed under school, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Hot solar panels

Today was hot. I think like 95F and mostly sunny and humid.

Anyway, the PV (solar electric) panels didn’t like it. They made 31.9 KWh vs 35.8 a few days ago (with what looks like a similar mix of sun and clouds). It was probably 75 or 80 that day?

So that’s 11% worse performance right there.

35.8 – 31.9 = 3.9 and

3.9/35.8= 11%

And compare that 35.8 to a cold day and that’s another 10% I am sure!

In my Enphase history I see plenty of sunny days above 42 KWh, so a day with a few clouds could easily still be 40 KWh.

Anyway, just sayin’. Our roof mount panels have a fair bit of a space below them. I bet if they were quite flush mount the heat would be even harder on them.

Some day I will rig a big cheap LASKO window fan up on a ladder and compare the output of the cooled-off row via the Enphase page.

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Filed under erik-green, solar

On the Tinker Mentality

Sometimes this approach (LINK) is right on (tinkering/self reliance). Other times, I’ve found it is better to think “group” or “team” and let someone who already has expertise do the work. Specialization can still be useful in a Post-Whatever world. Still… I think the message can be the same. Find a person fix something rather than tossing. I’d rather pay for someone’s time than pay for some material junk.


1. We just had a storm door installed. I could definitely have done it, and am not afraid to do it, but I think it would have taken me 4 times as long and it didn’t cost too much to have it done.


2. Lawn work. One could “calculate” that my time would be better spent coding rather than mowing or spreading mulch or compost. But it is satisfying to me to at least be able to do a certain amount Organic Lawn upkeep. Plus, the kids love love love helping. Something REAL! With tools! And dirt!


3. Busted GFCI circuit replaced by electrician. I’ve done these before, but it’s also quite inexpensive to have electrician’s help. I’ll take the help! Changing the oil in a car is another. Done it a million times, but can’t say I much care for it. Jiffee Lube.

I don’t think there is a clear rule of thumb to this — self vs help — but I think there is a place for both. Probably depends on one’s interests more than anything. Some “self reliant” tasks will appeal more to some people than others.

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Filed under green, homesteading, kids -- freedom and responsibility

Our Wall-E waistlines

Folks, Wall-E is not the future. It is now!

“…if trends continue, 83 percent of men and 72 percent of women are projected to be overweight or obese by 2020.”

Is that right? Wow.


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Filed under health, obesity

L’s surprising first day of school… in June!

It was 4 year-old L’s second day at Sudbury Valley School today. (This after months of a complete lack of interest, and now suddenly last week, “I want to go.” What? Really? We’ll see if he really means it…)

At the end of the day today, I had to leave and come back almost an hour later to try again because… he wouldn’t leave! He was too involved in an art project and would almost not acknowledge my presence, at least when the subject of “OK, time to go!” came up. He had also said on the 10am car-ride to school, “I’m eating my lunch as soon as I get there!” Go for it, I said. (There is of course no set “lunch time” at SVS.) But he forgot by the time we arrived. He was too busy!

Older brother A would occasionally pop into the art room (or wherever) to check on him. What a sweet, caring kid. Come on people, this is beyond awesome. All around me as I walk around the school and outside are kids from families… they are not age-segregated off in separate rooms, classes or grades. They are truly together (or very much not!) but the point is it is their choice. Kids age 4 thru high school.

And some of them actually know where their shoes are when I come to round up a carpool of 4 or 5 of them from 2 families. 😉

I’m not saying SVS is utopia. I am not saying there might not be some disadvantages. (Certainly some us of parents sometimes wish we lived in Framingham or a magic school bus could drive the kids to and fro!) But I really can’t say that any of it could outweigh the advantages. At least for our family, this is real life… now. No waiting for tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, L has asked that he stay “even longer” so that he arrives home later, just before his favorite animal TV show starts. Not so fast mister! Maybe next week… it’s only your third day! Act like you miss me at least a little. Please!?!

LINK: Sudbury Valley School

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Filed under alternative education, attachment parenting, freedom, kids -- freedom and responsibility, responsibility, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School