Monday, December 30, 2002

Waking Up Early to Go to School

I got a newsletter today from Indian Creek School, where I spent grades 1 through 8. When I left in '84, my classmates and I begged them to open up a high school so we could stay on. Better late than never, I suppose. They've announced plans for an 'Upper School' that will open in 2006.

What struck me most about the project was this part:

"[Indian Creek Upper School] has a different schedule from traditional high schools. Research shows that adolescents need more sleep and do better in school when they begin the school day later. We begin the day at 9:00 a.m and our students stay on campus until 4:50 p.m."

I have read article after article over the past ten years stressing the importance of adapting school hours to the sleep schedules of adolescents. Unfortunately, I have also read article after article of school administrators offering excuses for why they could not make adjustments – usually having to do with problems with re-arranging the bus schedules. (If there was one thing public school taught me, it was that all plans revolved around the bus schedule -- well, that and the cafeteria schedule.)

Anyway, right on, ICS! I wrote them a letter applauding their decision. 18 years later, I still know most of the people involved personally, and they really care about education. It makes me proud to be an alum.

Friday, December 20, 2002

Not Nauru!

The Washington Post has an article this morning about how Nauru is being targeted by the US for lax financial regulations. Nauru, in case you didn't know, at one point had the highest per capita in the world. Phosphate deposits (seagull crap) provided the nation's wealth, but there's only so many droppings to go around, so the country's wealth has been due to run out for some time now.

I wrote a paper on Nauru in college as part of my Upper-Level Writing Requirement. By the way, that requirement was a little bit of a joke. The class had to include a certain number of pages of writing. I was proud of myself for fulfulling the requirement outside of my major, but the class ended up counting the pages in the paper I wrote twice -- once for the writing, and once for the revision. When I submitted the original version, I was told it was good enough that I didn't need to revise it. I mean, cool, I was happy, but that seems like a weak way to satisfy the requirement.

One goal of my paper was to examine the way Nauruans were dealing with the imminent end of their resource-based economy and see what lessons that held for Middle Eastern oil-based economies. I've since become convinced that the oil will last significantly longer, but their time will come, too.

Anyway, the picture from Nauru doesn't look good. (Not that it looks great from the Middle East, either.) They've invested a lot of their money abroad, but a lot of times unwisely. I remember reading an article about Nauruans investing in a play in London, and a whole bunch of them flying out there for the premiere. Unfortuntely, most of them were probably there for the finale, as it closed within a week.

Nauru has mostly been in the news lately because the Australians stuck a bunch of asylum seekers there. I guess Nauru made out all right financially from that deal, but I don't think that contributes to their long-term financial soundness. And now this latest blow -- I guess their attempt to ride the financial-smuggling gravy train is grinding to a halt.

It's another sad chapter for them. I guess I have some sort of weird affection for trouble island nations. I'd still like to go there some day -- I wonder if tourism is their ultimate salvation.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

Cute pictures of my nephews

Christina's cousin Pam e-mailed some wedding pictures. I wanted to put them up, but instead of putting them up all at the same time, I thought I could break them out into subcategories. This set is of my nephews. According to the first two definitions of "cousin", I have to refer to Pam as Christina's cousin, not mine, but the first definition of "nephew" lets me claim Witt and Luke.

They're neat kids. We got to play Risk a couple of times with Witt over Thanksgiving. Luke wanted to "play", as he's at an age where he wants in on everything his brother (and other people) get to do, but he couldn't play with his Risk pieces in a non-disruptive way, because, well, that age thing again, I suppose. I was interested to discover that Risk no longer comes with pieces shaped like roman numerals.

We were at some loss, since the Risk rules seemed to have gone missing, so, of course, we downloaded them from Italy.

That's Witt with his 2nd cousins, Emma and Lauren. Emma was the flower girl; Witt was the ring bearer.