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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mushrooms and Bushwhacking

Today (Christmas Eve), my family and I took a hike to Bass Lake, one of our favorite walks, with "Michael the Mycologist" as we call him. (A mycologist is someone who studies mushrooms.) It was a lot of fun. The scenery is really amazing, with cliffs on one side going down to the sea.


Later along the trail we pass by shady woods. Proclaiming that this was the perfect mushroom habitat, Michael took us off the trail to explore. The needles on the ground formed a cushiony brown carpet.

And we did find the mushrooms. I got down at ground level to take photos of the mushrooms. I have a friend who loves mushrooms and thinks they are very cute. I now agree.

 I love these ones:

After we had been wandering about looking at mushrooms for a while off the trail, we decided to get back to the path. That involved bushwhacking down a steep hill covered in ferns and blackberry bushes. By the time I got back to the path I was exhausted and had moss in my hair.

And I saw some awesome non-mushroom things, like the rings of a tree stump.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

We are halfway through Hanukkah and the day after tomorrow will be Christmas! We went to a friend's Hanukkah party the other night. I have some awesome facts about holidays that I learned online. They are neither lame nor obvious. First, the actual Santa Claus lived in the third century and gave money to people in need. Second, there is no one decided English-alphabet spelling for Hanukkah. Quite on the contrary, there are 17 of them. Chanuccah, Channuka, Channukah, Chanuka, Chanukkah, Chanuko, Hannuka, Hannukah, Hanuka, Hanukkah, Hanukka, Hannukka, Kanukkah, Khannuka, Khannukah, Khanukkah, and Khanukkah are all used occasionally, although only a couple  are generally accepted.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sing-Along Messiah

Last night Mom, Millie and I went to a really awesome thing called the Sing-Along Messiah. It's a performance of Handel's Messiah, but more fun. That's because the audience is the chorus. They handed out scores of the music to everyone and seated us according to voice type. There was also an orchestra, and several appointed soloists did the solo songs up on the stage. But when the songs for the chorus came, everyone sang. It was really neat. Occasionally I got lost, and a lot of the time I wasn't singing quite the right note. But even so, to sing great music with the rest of the audience/chorus was an amazing feeling. Rafie decided, at the last minute, not to come along because "I hurt my leg". Then when we had driven there for 20 minutes, he called us begging us to come back and get him. We didn't, because we didn't want to be late.
It is safe to say that 90% of the audience was more than 70 years old. I saw three other people in total who were less than 20, and two of them were babies who obviously weren't singing along. Most of them were (probably) in choruses, or used to be.
It was so great! Every song made me feel wonderful.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Flosculous Curwhibble with Aprosexia Fleered Concinnously, and Other Language Stuff

I've just found a new source of old rare, and fun words! It is this page, and I think it's great. I have a new collection of words I'm trying to learn and say as much as possible. They are...
Flosculous, which means flowery; curwhibble, which is like whatchamacallit or thingamajig; aprosexia, which is an inability to pay attention (I know some people with it); fleer, which means to jeer or laugh at; and concinnous, which means neat and eloquent.
"A flosculous curwhibble with aprosexia fleered concinnously" doesn't make much sense, but it's a sentence I came up with that has all my new words in it! Oh, and the other day I used one of my Save the Words words on Mom. She thought that just because she didn't know it, it wasn't a word. Ha!

I've been working on some Computational Linguistics problems. Mom does them with me because she thinks they're very fun, which they are. They're also very hard. Computational Linguistics is a sort of Language/Logic hybrid. A typical problem will give you several sentences, words or phrases in a language that it is assumed you don't know, tells you the translation of each one, and asks you to figure out how to translate some other sentences, words or phrases into or out of that language. You have to study the words hard, figure out what means what and how the grammar system works. It's mostly logic, but a knowledge of languages really helps; mom wouldn't have figured out how the Gaelic counting system works if she didn't know how the French counting system worked (they would both say what translates to four twenties plus three for 83-- how confusing is that?), and I probably wouldn't have realized how Swahili noun declension works without knowing about Latin noun declension. Anyway, Computational Linguistics is really fun. Plus, the name is so cool. Just saying computational linguistics makes me feel smart.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I did not bring my camera when we went to the museum...

...and so of course I wanted to take a picture of everything there.  I asked Rafie if I could take a picture with his camera. But Rafie takes picture for no reason besides remembering the content. I finally convinced him to let me take the picture (he wanted to take it himself), but I didn't get the photo right and Rafie just said, "Eh. Looks fine to me," and took the camera back.
So that's why I have no photos for you, despite having seen reindeer, macaws, penguins and lots of other stuff at the California Academy of Sciences today. But it was awesome anyway. It was really crowded, but that was actually not a problem.
I will have photos of things not related to the Academy for you soon. I temporarily misplaced my camera somewhere in the house, but I'm sure it'll turn up soon.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


((Warning! Annoyed teenage rant!) I'm doing a Johns Hopkins Center For Talented Youth Online Course. Some of the assignments are really stupid! Right now my assignment is to add aliteration into a random essay I wrote months ago. Did they ever think that revising every sentence so there's aliteration might not be ideal for every essay ever written??

Make and Take Craft Fair!

The homeschoolers' Make and Take Craft Fair is going to be today. It is an event where homeschoolers put out craft booths. At some booths, kids sell crafts they've made. At others, people run craft activities, letting people do them for a fee. It's always very fun. I don't have anything to sell this year personally, but the rest of the Brainstorm Audio producers and I will be selling issues of Brainstorm Audio. We are considering making the files free on the website so that people who don't live near us could listen and so we could get  a bunch of people following our magazine. (We would still sell the CDs, because those cost money.)
If you're going to the Craft Fair, keep a lookout for the Brainstorm Audio booth!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Laughing, though not out loud (l,tnol)

When I was googling something about World War One I saw that someone on Yahoo answers was asking a question concerning who was on which side in WWI and WW2. I'm sorry, i just seriously have to share some of the answers with you.

in both wars the Allies conisted of:

The falkland Islands
Utah State

and the bad guys consisted of:

Christmas Island

(all courtesy of Wikipedia)

Three people rated it as "good".

Friday, December 2, 2011

NamProm Update

*Sighs.* I don't like NamProm! I lowered my goal from 5 pages per day to 3 pages per day.
So, here's another video of Parkour. (You should totally subscribe to Rafie's channel!) We were focusing on rolling and stuff. My blog is not about to turn into a Parkour blog; I'll probably post a couple more, but after that I will get bored with posting videos of Parkour and go back to posting other stuff.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fort Ross: Epic Peanuts, Ghosts, and Gardening... in 1812!

I spent last Monday and Tuesday with about 30 other homeschooled kids in the nineteenth century. Yes. The nineteenth century. Hickman organized a very cool trip to Fort Ross, where they have a historical re-enactment thing. During the overnight, we all played the roles of people who lived at Fort Ross when it was a Russian settlement in the nineteenth century. The group I was in, the Gardeners, planted lettuce and chard in the Fort Ross garden and wove baskets. Other groups did other things. The Cooks made the group's meals over an open fire. The Hunters fished and hiked. The Militia paraded around and learned to fire a cannon. The Artisans did craft projects. All the groups took hikes and wrote in journals from our characters' points of view. Both the Artisans and the Gardeners had a fair amount of free time around the fort, and since we were all friends the two groups naturally hung out.
Most of what we did when not busied by the planned activities was not very authentic.

I told ghost stories even though it was forbidden. "You'll scare the younger kids!" said the adults. Evelyn, Brigitte and I set out to convince people that there was something haunting Fort Ross. When people asked me how I knew, I said that my neighbor, who had been to Fort Ross, told me. Which was true.
Two twin boys who just joined Hickman Charter School in the eighth grade were quite intrigued, and in no time after I told them about the rumors of spirits who haunt the Kuskov House, they were giving me their own first-hand stories of how they had seen ghosts. Something invisible hitting Gabriel in the head. A rhythmic tapping on the second-floor window of Kuskov House. Shannon, being one of "the younger kids" was indeed terrified. When I found that she actually believed me, I made a point of telling her that the ghosts were usually perfectly safe to be around. In the evening there was time for music and storytelling, so I told the story I'd been planning. It was a Fort Ross version of a story I heard at the Trackers (outdoor education program) campout, a story about a madman with bright green eyes who had strangled people at various points in history. The best part was when my four accomplices in the audience grabbed the shoulders of whoever was in front of them, saying "Rarr!" Of course in the morning, the twins were telling me about the green eyes floating in the air outside the door.

The Gardeners tried to organize an Occupy Fort Ross movement. There was a Trade Store where after they've done their packing-up and chores, every kid can get a certain number of little trinkets (like candies or tea-paper). We were outraged that the kids in every group could get five items, except the Cooks, who got seven items. We rallied a few other groups into agreement and talked to the adults about it for some time. Our guide made several ridiculous arguments about why this was. First she told us that the cooks spent much more time cooking than any other group spent then any other group spent doing their work. I then made a speech about how this was morally arbitrary to Rawls; how the group we ended up in was not a result of our effort but of which group we were placed in based on our Top Three Choices.
The guide, though I heard her muttering about "homeschoolers, so precocious", tried to act grown-up and convincing. "It's not that we don't value your work as much, it's that the work you're doing isn't as hard." We all laughed at that one later. (In addition to being sort of paradoxical, it's such a different argument than her first one!)
We had no tents, but we tried to have a general strike. Then we realized that they wouldn't care at all if we did that, because they didn't actually need us. (In real Fort Ross it would've worked.) But we sold some sprigs of rosemary from the garden in the store. For some reason, people actually bought them, bringing our virtual money up to Cook level.

There was also something called the Peanut, which was the mascot of Gabriel's brand new secret cult "The Inner Shell". He, the twins, and several other artisans worshipped a sleeping bag with sunglasses on it, which they claimed resembled a peanut. They insisted that Xena, Brigitte and I see it too; eventually at least one person from each group at Fort Ross was part of the cult. Everyone else thought it was the dumbest thing ever. Xena tried to steal the Peanut, but she couldn't find it. Gabriel revealed the new location to Brigitte, who apparently caused a clamor by snatching it, running, and handing it to Clem.

I could tell you way more about any of these topics, but I fear if this post gets any longer I'll lose your attention. Fort Ross was awesome!!