So Miles just spent four days with his class at Live Power Community Farm in Covelo – camping out in 30-degree weather (at night), milking cows at the break of dawn, shoveling poop and plowing the earth and sorting vegetables. No electronics, no toys, no media – just kids experiencing life at its messy, organic best. During the breaks, they swam in the river and put on talent shows for each other. The kids worked hard but had a great time – all returned exhausted but recharged.
The farm gets its name from the fact they try, where possible, not to use powered machinery – everything is powered by animal and human effort. Blood, sweat and tears… and the rewards that come from that. Of course, everyone jokes about how it’s powered by child labor, but that’s not fair – the kids are there not as indentured servants but because their grownups see the work done on the farm as character building and healthy — everyone needs to spend time in and around real live dirt, and everyone needs to have milked a real live cow at least once in their lives.
I often lament that it seems to be so hard to provide kids with anything like the environment I (we) grew up in. The combination of our technology-heavy environment and the fact that kids don’t just “go play outside” anymore means something crucial is being lost. I do my best to get him out into nature as often as possible, but big picture, it’s a drop in the bucket. So grateful he was able to get a real taste of dirt this week.
He took a ton of photos on the trip, and I helped him to select a few of the best and create his first web slideshow – check it out.
Feel so blessed to have found a family activity we can all enjoy together. Spent the weekend in Santa Rosa with Amy and Miles, and rode the Piccolo route of the Levi’s GranFondo – a ride first through the rolling hills of Santa Rosa wine country and then out along the coastal cliffs. Since our son has just turned 11, we did the shortest ride (the Piccolo). It was definitely a challenge for him, but he applied all his willpower and muscle and made it the entire way – his longest ride yet. So proud of him!
Absolutely gorgeous countryside, with a solid 1-mile climb at the end that sapped every ounce of M’s strength. Recharged on watermelon, PBJs, and nuts, then the return voyage. I bolted the GoPro onto the handlebars and set it to capture one image every 60 seconds. So photos are not as “intentional” as they might be, but I did end up with a really nice random sampling. Unfortunately, I left the wifi feature enabled, which chewed up the battery. Camera went dead about halfway through, so you don’t get any of the high-speed downhill or the traipse over the Greenway toward the end – corn fields on one side and a babbling brook on the other.
One of the highlights of the day: Barreling down hill at 35mph into the 2nd half, guy whizzes past us yelling at the top of his lungs JESUS CHRIST I’M HAPPY!!!!
Over the past few months, my 10-yr-old son (now 11!) has been producing his own YouTube video podcast series. Nearly every morning before school, he’s in the office with a microphone and QuickTime’s Screen Capture feature, narrating a Minecraft how-to or walk-through sequence of some kind. He’s becoming a real pro.
Now that he’s developed a solid set of videos, he asked me for a bit of help promoting his channel. He’d love to have more subscribers, if you or your kids are into Minecraft. Here’s the channel link.
I much prefer his tips on creative build techniques, like the “Epic sandfall” embedded below. I’m not nearly as into the PvP mode game tours, but as long as it’s clean and non-violent, I’m OK with it.
Not the main road you’re used to, but the old / abandoned one that runs down near the water. Not exactly easy to access, but blissful once you do. Combination paved/unpaved (you’ll want a mountain bike), and extends the entire length of San Pablo Dam, around 4 miles each way.
Doing a father/son ride with Miles on his 11th birthday.
Just found some video scraps from our 2010 Kauai trip and decided to edit them down into a little montage. Includes footage of my mother-in-law and my wife zip-lining over a stream together (worth the price of admission alone!)
Not sure why I didn’t shoot much video on our 2013 trip. Sure wish I had had the GoPro camera then.
Kauai is my happy place. Revisiting this footage is awesome.
In Sept. 2013 I re-uploaded a bunch of old video to a new YouTube account, and found that the quality of the uploaded versions has been dramatically improved over the “old” YouTube. Hated to lose all of the old view counts, but it’s worth it for this much bump in quality.
This was originally posted in 12/08; revisiting it here just because it’s so much fun.
Many kids have a secret world they keep in their heads. It often starts very early, then slowly fades from interest as they grow up.
Miles’ was called, at first, “Nowhereland,” but at some point the name suddenly changed to “Ziso.” Not sure why. The Universe of Ziso was the topic of so many family walks and car trips throughout his early childhood – we’d pass the time by asking him “What are schools like in Ziso?” or “What do people eat in Ziso?,” and he would either make things up on the spot or pull things out of this vast internal encyclopedia he had constructed in his mind. To him, Ziso was a web of interconnected factoids, characters, strange physics, animals, personalities, jobs, edibles, transportation networks, and relationships.
Miles had a job in Ziso – as head archivist at an organization that studied a long-past Zisoan war. And he had a son in Ziso (but no wife). His son’s name was Uber (whom he himself had birthed!). Uber was just a couple years older than real-world Miles, making him a perfect alternate-universe analog for himself. Zisoans only eat goo puff balls, which are large orbs that grow on trees, filled with a gooey protein. Zisoans only go to school when they feel like it. Zisoans have everything they need and don’t use money.
For the past week, I’ve been mulling an offer to write another book (“Intro to Python Programming” for Penguin Press). It’s been more than a decade since my last book, and I’d really enjoy the opportunity, but am trying to get better about saying “no” to things, stop pushing myself so hard all the time, and to start having “margins of life” to enjoy like normal folk.
After a lot of thought, I just politely declined; can’t face the prospect of six months of deadlines and lost weekends. At one point, an offer like this would have seemed like part of living a juicy life; now it feels like just another thing that distracts from it. Hoping it was the right decision.
When we experienced Kauai for the first time in 2010, I was so blown away – and found the experience so transformative – that I spent three days writing a blog post about it when we returned.
Just returned from a 2nd trip, but no way am I going to do that much writing again, even though I’ve got just as much to say :) Instead, just spent a day combing through 2,000 photos (mine, my wife’s and my father’s), and whittled down the set to around 200.