Sun(Fun)day Night Post – Do You Have a Buddy Bench?

04-10-A

It’s a bit late on this Sunday night, so I have to keep this brief. While I was looking through my digital edition of the Washington Post over breakfast this morning, I came across this article which made me smile: Kids Don’t Have to Be Lonely at Recess Anymore Thanks to This Little Boy and His ‘Buddy Bench.’

I’m not an elementary school teacher, so I don’t know if this concept and these objects have widely caught on in the U.S.A. This was the first time I’ve heard about this myself. Do forgive me if this is widely known and I’m just a “johnny-come-lately” with it.

The concept is simple – it’s a bench where a student can go and sit during recess if he or she feels lonely and unable to connect with others. Children are coached to pay attention to the bench and, if a kid is sitting there by himself or herself, go over and invite him or her to join a group and participate.

The boy pictured above is credited with bringing this simple, yet powerful concept to the U.S. According to the article, he and his family were planning on moving to Germany and he was worried that he’d feel alone at a new school. When he toured a possible school for him, he was reassured when he noticed the “buddy bench” in their recess area. While his family didn’t move overseas, he has been able to help create this place of hospitality at many schools around the U.S.

It’s a great idea and it seems to be catching on. A Google Search brings up all kinds of images of “buddy benches.” Here’s a few of my favorite ones:

So does your school or workplace have a “buddy bench” – a place for one to go in order to show that he or she feels lonely or disconnected? And does your school or workplace have a strong enough culture of hospitality that kids or adults would invite the “buddy bench” sitter off of the seat and into the group?

Sun(Fun)day Night Post: How to Watch the Oscar Nominated Films and Who Should Have Won Best Picture

Oscar List

Since you and I may be watching the 88th Academy Awards tomorrow evening, I thought I’d get this post completed early. Plus, you’ll find a link below which both ranks all of the films nominated this year and tells you how/where to watch them now!

Or perhaps, you feel like me and may very well #boycottoscars because this year it’s blatantly #oscarssowhite . It may be useful to watch just to see how Chris Rock handles this reality.

If you’re not too busy planning what to teach in next week’s classes, you may want to hustle and watch some of the nominees between now and about 8pm Sunday night.

 Vox (pictured above) has a very cool article in which their film critic both ranks all of the nominees across the categories and lists where/how to view each one right now. For even more fun(ctionality), you can filter the films various ways and reconfigure the list as you wish.

If you like speculating on the Best Picture Oscar woulda, coulda, shoulda’s  check out this fun post from the Washington Post.  Two film critics go through the Best Picture nominees and winner for each of the last 40 years. They then speculate on who should have won each year. A few times they believe the actual best picture of the year won the Best Picture Oscar, but more often than not, this is not the case.

Here’s one year with which I really agree with their conclusion:

Oscars 1981

Can you guess which film my eleven year old self LOVED in 1981 (and my 46 year old self still loves) and which one I couldn’t even sit through today – 35 years later!

And who starred in Chariots of Fire anyway?  Oh yeah, Ben Cross, Ian Charleston and Nigel Havers.

Stuff You Should Know: One Global Time Zone and Permanent Calendar

Calendar

In place of the usual Friday FunLink and since it’s been exactly a month since I’ve offered a Stuff You Should Know post, I’m shifting gears today.

A short while ago I saw an interesting article today in the Washington Post entitled “The Radical Plan to Destroy Time Zones.” It fits into the category of the SYSK feature because Johns Hopkins professors Hanke and Henry are seeking to implement this unification of global time as well as a permanent calendar (see above for a screen shot of it) on January 1, 2018.

The WaPo interview doesn’t quite flesh out the day to day changes that a single time would require except to observe:

While it may ultimately simplify our lives, the concept would require some big changes to the way we think about time. As the clocks would still be based around the Coordinated Universal Time (the successor to Greenwich Mean Time that runs through Southeast London) most people in the world would have to change the way they consider their schedules. In Washington, for example, that means we’d have to get used to rising around noon and eating dinner at 1 in the morning. (Okay, perhaps that’s not that big a change for some people.)

One of the first shifts would be to go completely to 24 hour time as “am” and “pm” would just be confusing. With this in place, the mind-shift would take time (pun intended) but it wouldn’t be impossible. To translate the example above, our rising time would be about 1200 (6am) with dinner time 13 hours later at 100 (7pm) and bed time 3 hours after this at 400 (10pm). Most digital watches can already be set to show 24 hour time and adding a second set of numbers to analog clocks is commonly done as well. Clocks would still run at the same rate with the only shift at 0000 UTC on 1 Jan 2018 in which every clock in the world would jump simultaneously to 0000. Back end tech work would have to be done on computer clocks, but we already showed something similar could be achieved a decade and a half ago with the Y2K fix.

As the proponents in the article note:

I (Henry) recall when my elderly mother in Canada said to me, oh, it was hot today, 30 degrees! If she could change [from measuring temperature in Fahrenheit to measuring it in Celsius], everyone can change!

Yeah, we tried that Imperial to Metric switch back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s and how did that work out for the U.S.? Yet, ambitious people with websites keep trying…

The proposal for a new calendar, dubbed the Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar has it’s own Wikipedia page, running example of the new time/date, and articles in Live Science and Wired dating back to the end of 2011. And since the proponents acknowledge that there isn’t any world governing body to implement these changes, this massive (but sensible) shift would have to come through a global on-line/social media campaign. So, here I am doing my part.

Two advantages that I see – no more Friday the 13th ever again and my birthday (Jan 20th) would always fall on a Friday (yes, bummer to all of those whose birthdays would forever fall on a Monday!).

And a disadvantage for some – Halloween would have to be moved to a different date as 31 October would cease to exist. This is not as hard as one might think as we already regularly do it here in Central Ohio – to the bewilderment and ridicule of even people like Stephen Colbert:

 

Friday FunLink: Snakes? No – A Turkey on a Plane

Turkey on a Plane

I didn’t have a Friday FunLink until a few minutes ago. I was eating lunch (fortunately not a turkey sandwich) and going through my many daily emails from the Washington Post and found the photo above along with an astounding true story.

You’ve heard of Turkey in the Straw. Here’s Turkey on the Plane

It’s a great article and the photo of the turkey being transported in a wheelchair is precious.

The best quote from the article is:

Tom Bunn, a former commercial pilot who now runs an organization to help people overcome their fear of flying, told Fox News that it is quite easy to get a therapist note for such occasions.

“Any therapist can sign off on any kind of animal,” Bunn said. “Science has proven that when dogs look at you with total devotion, it produces oxytocin, a hormone that shuts down the fear mechanism. The turkey, I don’t think so.”

A big turkey dinner loaded with tryptophan always relaxes me. Would a large, living turkey sitting next to me on a plane do similarly? Ahh..no.

Friday Good News! The Hug Lady and Good Political News

Hug Lady

You don’t need me to tell you that this was a bleak week in the news. Rather than share a jovial Friday FunLink, I thought I’d share two inspirational stories from the Washington Post’s weekly “The Optimist” email. I hope these stories bring you joy, inspiration, and hope during this Advent season.

First, from Texas is 83 year-old Elizabeth Laird, aka The Hug Lady. For a dozen years she’s been giving hugs to soldiers departing for or returning from war. The past ten years she’s been struggling with breast cancer and is now in the hospital receiving intensive (and expensive) treatment. Her son, Richard Dewees, put out a request for help and…

set up a GoFundMe page to help with the medical costs. He asked for $10,000. It has raised $72,316 from more than 2,000 people in just three days. Dewees, 64, knew his mother was beloved –he’s shared her with her military sons and daughters for years now — but he said “he’s stunned.”

A few comments left by donors are published in the article. The love and gratitude expressed is heart-felt:

“Ms. Elizabeth, you gave us just an ounce of humanity before we spent the next year of our lives in a place that was tantamount to hell and devoid of humanity… The gift you gave us upon departure is immeasurable.”

And:

“I love her, I deployed teary eyed and scared, (secretly) worried my almost two year old daughter would forget me [sic] she whispered in my ear that everything would be ok [and]  meant the world to me. I wish I had millions to give her.”

Another story from the same (pre-Thanksgiving) “The Optimist” email is a follow-up about Larry Hogan’s, Maryland governor, treatment for an aggressive cancer. This minute long video will bring a smile of joy to your face:

 

Here’s to a good weekend and a happier week next than this one ending.

 

 

 

Friday FunLink: The Problems With Each State’s Flag

Flag-ohio

The state flag of Mississippi was in the news again this week when the leadership of Ole Miss voted to remove it from the campus. The flag of the Magnolia State features the highly-divisive Confederate battle flag in the upper left quadrant. The President of the U. Southern Mississippi system released this email explaining the decision:

“I have chosen to raise American flags on all University of Southern Mississippi flagpoles to remind the University Community of what unites us. We have all chosen to work, study and live in a country in which debates like those around the state flag of Mississippi can take place and ideas can be civilly expressed and advanced. While I love the state of Mississippi, there is passionate disagreement about the current state flag on our campuses and in our communities. I am looking forward to a time when this debate is resolved and USM raises a state flag that unites us.”

Obviously Mississippi has big problems with their flag and may well change it in the near future. What about the other 49 state flags – might they have issues also? Alexandra Petri, of the Washington Post’s ComPost offers a funny examination of each state’s flag and how it is “wrong.” Here’s a few of my favorite observations:

Flag-2

Flag-3

Flag-6

Flag-5

 

 

Friday FunLink – What 2000 Looked Like From 1900

Y2K - 2

With the Chicago Cubs win a couple of nights ago, there’s been much internet chatter about how the 1989 film Back to the Future 2 predicted a World Series win (finally) by the Cubbies in 2015.

Back to the Future Cubs

We’ll have to wait a while longer to see if this prediction was remarkably prescient or another one of the missed 2015 predictions in this film. But we can enjoy this French art, created around the turn of the 20th century, illustrating how artists believed life would look in the year 2000.

All of the images are worth viewing, pondering and chuckling with. Here’s a few of my favorites:

Y2K - 4

Y2K -1

Y2K-5

 

March Madness at School, Eight Apps to Follow It & Other Brackets to Play

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OK. I really, really enjoy March Madness.  The four days starting yesterday are some of the most exciting and intense sporting days on the entire calendar.  Numerous concurrent match-ups, close & thrilling games with surprise upsets, and a national mania about “bracketology” unmatched by any other event.

Yes, productivity plunges during this time as office workers and high school students alike sneak glances (or entire class periods) to view scores and find out how their personal bracket is holding up.  Yesterday afternoon, a student passed me in the hall and enthusiastically let me know “UAB is winning!”  I’m not so familiar with the tournament that I could immediately know that he meant Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham (14 seed) was on the verge of upsetting Iowa State ( 3 seed).

Do I think schools should do everything possible to keep students away from getting info on March Madness during these unique school days?  No, because even though we block ESPN.com on the students’ iPads, there are no shortage of other ways for them learn scores and even “live cast” games.  Nor do I take the other perspective and think teachers should incorporate it into their lesson planning.

I think it’s a diversionary, fleeting moment of fun which only comes around once a year.  And besides, it helps break up a long, still-chilly month about which Garrison Keillor once said: “March is the month that God designed to show those who don’t drink what a hangover is like.”

And yes, if you want to follow the Madness with your devices (instead of jumping on a browser), here’s the link to the list provided by Time.

OVERTIME: If you don’t like NCAA Men’s Basketball, but you do like brackets, here’s a couple of other options underway:

Saints Madness 2015

Build-a-Bear Bracket Challenge

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UPDATE: Here’s one more interesting bracket that I found in the Washington Post.  It takes common pairs, e.g. peanut butter and jelly and splits them up on either side of the bracket.  The idea is we’ll see which one makes it furthest and is therefore the most important of the two.