Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It Doesn't Get Much Better Than Worst Case

At first glance I thought these books were fluffy around the edges; until I sat down and read one almost cover-to-cover.  There is learning potential embedded between the front and back covers!  It's funny stuff, too.  Max has read some of these and re-read them and read them again.  There is bona fide, genuine useful information on the pages.

This is probably his favorite, just because the gross factor is high.  From pimple management to gas leaks, humor reigns.  But those clever authors stuck in some honest-to-goodness useful information that may prompt your child to dig a little deeper.  I'm pleased with the personal hygiene theme that permeates the pages; especially appropriate for the newly blossomed middleschooler!

Not so much useful as just plain fun.  I've never been abducted by aliens or have had to wrestle a werewolf, but what do I know?  If such things existed, then this would be the manual to carry around in your backpack at all times.  (Psst..........aliens and werewolves and vampires aren't real!!)  This book wouldn't be a good fit for a kiddo who worries about paranormal activity when the lights go out!

Summer's drawing to a close, all the neighborhood kids have headed back to the brick and mortar buildings to begin their educational year. One of our fifth grade neighbor boys has 28 kids in his class as of yesterday.  Goodness!  I can do fairly well by one child - how do teachers of large classes manage?  That's got to be a very challenging daily task and they may wish the system worked a bit differently at times.  I sincerely wish it could, too.  Hats off to those teachers who think outside the box and find ways to engage the kids! 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Some Jobs Get Dirty

Mike Rowe has been spending some time in our living room.  On the screen.  Showing us what it takes to keep our country humming along.  And some of it isn't pretty!  UGH.  Some of it is down right nasty and nauseating.  But these are the jobs that hard-working people take on every day to make a living and to keep  products on the shelves.  We have all learned so much about what some tasks take in the way of man power, dedication and olfactory tolerance!

Since 2007, Mike and his crew have been scouring the back roads of America looking for dirty jobs that many Americans depend on for civilized life to carry on; except, most of us probably didn't fully realize what went into those jobs until now.  If you watch even one episode, you'll have a much bigger appreciation for many of the conveniences in your life.  You might gaze fondly at your toilet in a whole new way!  And be grateful for the people who willingly place themselves on the receiving end of that contraption EVERY DAY!  

The conveniences of daily life might not seem so glamorous anymore, and that might be a good thing.  Just to keep it all in check.  I think we do need to be grateful for people who tackle the unpleasant tasks, for the hide tanners and the sewer technicians and the walnut shakers and the high rise window washers of the universe.  We salute you!  And yes, I feel sorry for the cows whose hides get tanned and the pigs who are bred for the sake of our dinner tables - you might guess where I stand on these issues :).

Mike makes the learning process entertaining, if a bit sarcastic at times.  Also, note that a few harsher words are tossed around now and then, but the editors do a pretty good job of bleeping out the stuff you probably don't want your kids to spout the next time you're in the grocery store together.  Hey, you might even look at products on the grocery store shelves with a new eye, too. We've learned a lot by watching.  We've learned about methods-by-hand that were historically used to accomplish tasks and how technology has changed the landscape for many industries.  You get to 'meet' real people working hard all over the country and you'll probably see processes you've never even thought about before.   It is in this light that I think Dirty Jobs is a valuable offering.  I also like how the people Mike visits are polite and welcoming of him and his camera crew; they seem to enjoy the opportunity to teach and get a charge out of Mike's willingness to see the nitty gritty operations behind the scenes.

There are four seasons currently available.  We have been utilizing Netflix streaming via the Roku player to indulge in a little Mike Rowe humor.  Be prepared for some unpleasantness that will likely fascinate your children!  Oh, and don't eat while you're watching.  Just speaking from experience.  

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