Monday, June 18, 2012


As I spend time with my grandchildren, I like to watch their development and skills that they acquire through their play. My grandson says it best when he says, "I do it myself." They like us to watch and encourage and talk to them but they want to be in charge. That important journey toward independence can be observed on the playground. As they fearlessly jump on the equipment and venture forth into a new experience, their fearless, optimistic outlook on the outcome is taken for granted to be one that they will like. 

They like to be cheered for their efforts, but the adults have to take care not to take away their open acceptance of a little daring. If the adults only give precautions when absolutely necessary, their self confidence is reinforced. We try not to interfere unless something is obviously dangerous. They quickly figure out the connection between actions and consequences. 

Problem solving skills are greatly developed as they get to figure out how to get something to function as they desire whether it is getting on a new playground toy, repairing a toy, or reading on a Nook. My grandson is in a jigsaw puzzle phase so he puts together one after another. He likes to show me how they go together, but my help or suggestions are not welcome--"I do it myself," he says. When a toy stops working, he races to the pantry to get the battery box to replace the battery. 

My granddaughter loves her books and the American Girl catalog. With her birthday coming up, she has a shopping list. I don't read books to her because she wants to read to me. I love listening to her reading her books and sounding out the new words. I can't remember a specific phrase that she often uses but I will always remember her brother's "I do it myself." It reminds me of my dad's often used phrase, "You think about it." 

I like seeing how confident they have become through the freedom they have been given to explore their abilities. They exist in a little protective cocoon of which they are very unaware. They are surrounded by watchful adults with structure without excessive supervision. They have been trained to clean up the toys at regular intervals--before a meal, before leaving to go home, before going to bed and they do a really good job of understanding the concept of neat, organized toys on shelves. They thrive on the structure of knowing the reliable expectations. I'm always eager to see their latest achievements each time I visit with them.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

And Justice For All

On Flag Day, I am reminded of the Pledge of Allegiance and the last phrase--"And Justice for All".  We can all argue the validity of that lofty goal and whether we can really claim its achievement. I always hesitate to get involved in political discussions because a good lawyer can argue many shades of gray on any issue and I'm not a lawyer. I received an interesting e-mail and I suspect many others with blogs have also seen this item.

At this location, this organization attempts to address some serious issues of our times. I must say that from what I've seen of their argument regarding incarceration in this country, I tend to agree. We have far too many people being sent off to prison for non-violent crimes mostly related to drug use. Lots of questions and I have to wonder now that prisons are being privatized, where is the motivation to stop so much incarceration when it pays that industry so well.?

I don't use illegal drugs and or legal ones for that matter, but I think it is time for this country to consider that the war on drugs was lost a long time ago. Sending the marijuana user off to prison makes no more sense than incarcerating the person who has a glass of wine. Society isn't well served when more is spent on prisons than on education. It might be worth a try when, like prohibition of alcohol, you take the money out of the drug trade, regulate and tax it, we might all be better off.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


My perception of noise has always been rather simple--sound I don't like. I have to expand my sensory definition of noise to include more than only sounds I hear and dislike. Noise can also be visual as found in playing with the word to include "visual noise".

This picture is a perfect example to me of visual noise: 

This "dithering" effect in digital photography produces an unpleasing "image noise". The photo was taken with a 5 megapixel camera that leaves too much "noise" in brown, blue or green sections of pictures. Digital photography fills in areas but it produces an unpleasing effect.

In contrast, these pictures below were taken with a 16.2 megapixel Nikon D5100 DSLR camera which produces a more pleasing photograph. The brown, blue and green colors look more as the natural eye would see them. The image noise reduction of the camera is outstanding.

I tend to be a purist in photographic effects. Artistic renderings in photographic form that plays with reality can sometimes be pleasing to my eye, but that is distinctly different from "visual noise". Beauty is in the eye of the beholder perhaps, but it seems to me that whatever was intended and fails is what produces "visual noise." You recognize what is visual noise and what is artistic "photoshopping" or enhancement of photos. A deliberate manipulation of digital media can produce some very pleasing effects not unlike impressionistic painting. There are those who claim  impressionists were just near-sighted artists. Even if that were true, I find the effect is a pleasing variation on reality. I wouldn't call it "noise".

According to that great expert in cyberspace, Wikipedia, noise can be expanded from acoustic noise to other applications as well as cellular noise, vibrational noise, electronic noise or thermal noise. The technical details of each makes very interesting reading. I don't need to try to paraphrase their definitions, but the idea of "noisy genes" tickles my fancy. It makes me wonder if there is such a thing as "tasty noise" or "smelly noise"--whatever interferes with the pure reception of a sensory experience.

At the core of all of these "noise" events, is the idea that something is unwanted. So I suppose I would define noise as whatever is unwanted or distracting and produces stress in the receptor. I like the notion of "white noise" which I would define as something so all inclusive that it soothes and ceases to stress or annoy.