Joining in on this weeks challenge from Ben. It’s at the Daily Post: Rounded. Here’s what he had to say about it…

This week, share your take on “rounded.” it’s a broad theme, so I look forward to your personal interpretations, whether you choose to focus on a curving street, limbs caught mid-way through a dance, a bowl of fruit (think of all the round shapes!), or any other object, landscape, or texture that fits within your definition of the theme. As always, less-literal takes are equally welcome.

It’s fun to think of ways to respond to the challenge, and neat to see what all everyone else comes up to. Feel free to join in, just click the link above.

My first thought for this challenge was about how it seems like it used to be much more important to be a ‘well rounded’ person. People were educated differently years ago. It seems they got a decent education in math, science, history, government and civics, sports, geography, languages, music and arts, and even rounded it out with travel.

Today, it seems our ‘educational system’ is focused on ‘teaching to the tests’. I don’t see that producing many ‘well rounded’ students, or even ’rounded’ at all!

I think we should go back to giving everyone a well rounded education. Let people focus on their interests and encourage them to learn about other things they might not even know they’ll love.

Here’s a few ’rounded’ shots. Just for the hell of it…

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Don't Stay In School

I was reading an email this morning about education. It was really more about the disadvantages of “public” schools (government schools).

This video was in the email. I don’t usually listen to rap music. I’ve never heard of this guy, Dave. Or his Boyinaband. I did check it out today. Just because I finally have some spare time at home and because of the recommendation in the email from TDV.

I think Dave makes a LOT of good points! No, I don’t think school should completely eliminate ALL the classics. But I DO think they spend a lot of time on things that  nobody is EVER going to use.

OK, if you’re going to be an engineer or scientist, (or math teacher) then I’m sure you’ll be using quadratic equations. For pretty much everybody else, you’ll be fine if you ace geometry (or even just basic arithmetic) and skip algebra completely.

Same goes for all the other subjects: Science, English, History, Civics, etc.

Why don’t we just give all our kids a great background in those basic subjects. Up to about 4th grade, say. They OUGHT to be able to ace it by then.  And if they’re some of the few that can’t, then DON’T let them hold back the ones that can do the work! Put the slow ones in a special remedial class and stop with all the political correctness that is ruining everything for everybody! Get some discipline back in the classrooms so the kids that want to learn, can learn. Concentrate on giving ALL of them a good foundation: “readin’, writin’, ‘rithmatic!” Spend the rest of the time up til High School building on those foundations with more intensive studies.

Then, after that, let the kids and their parents chose a more applicable education. Surely by High School, all involved ought to have a good idea of what they want to do with their lives. Let them opt out of todays’ standard “college prep” and take something more practical if they want to (technical or trade track).

I agree with the premise that kids are naturally curious and WILL learn what interests them. If you show them how a subject will be relevant to them, then they’re a lot more likely to take an interest.

In my own personal experience, I was very lucky to have the chance to leave the ‘public’ school system before it totally destroyed my chance of a good education. I was one of those students who always aced the tests, etc. I made straight A’s without even trying. By the time I got to High School, I had already started skipping school. Just because it was SO DAMNED BORING!

I decided I had much better things to do with my time than to take Algebra yet again! I had been taking that class (earning straight A’s) since 4th grade! No one could/would explain to me why I should waste even more of my time in that class. Nor could they say why there were no options!

People seem to think that the ONLY place you can learn something is in ‘school’. I disagree!! I’ve learned a hell of a lot more on my own, then I ever did in school.

Looked to me then (and it looks to me now), like we have a one track system. Dumb down the smart kids (and the middle of the road kids). Let the slow kids set the pace of the class. IMHO, that is a road to disaster! And just look at how bad the results are compared to a century ago! Here’s a link to an 8th grade exam from 1912. Could YOU pass it?

(I can’t. I have 2 degrees- one of them is in math).

BUT; if kids could pass it then, they COULD be taught to pass it NOW.

Now we graduate kids from High School that can’t even READ! Or do even BASIC math! I know, because I used to tutor a hell of a lot of them when they got into college. And WHY are they even allowed into college if they can’t ALREADY read, write and do math???

We really need to stop spending so much time, money and other resources on making sure (or trying to) that everybody can go to college. Somehow we’ve managed to make a college degree a ‘necessity’.

MAYBE if we got back to where a high school diploma actually meant something, like a graduate really knew how to read, basic math, basic all around education and HOW TO THINK, then a business would once again be able to trust that the person they’re interviewing for a job could learn the skills to do the job without needing a complete education after they got hired! Maybe then you wouldn’t ‘need’ a college degree to get a ‘good job’.

After all, one of the main reasons we send kids to school is so that they can ‘get a job’. Hopefully, a job that will allow them a decent standard of living. A “good job”. I don’t see why we should FORCE kids to stay in school if that’s all they’re looking for.

The other reason we send kids to school is to give them a real education. To learn how to live their lives. I think we are failing BADLY in this task. I think we should teach these lessons from the earliest opportunity and all the way up through High School.

Yes! Like Dave says; teach them about money, currency, and where it comes from! Teach them about finances, about how the stock markets work, about banking, about budgeting, about debt and interest, about how to balance a checkbook, about how to run a household.

Teach them about how to shop for groceries, about nutrition and healthy eating, about how to cook. Teach them how to grow a garden. Teach them about their bodies and how to stay healthy (and how NOT to become parents!), and how to raise a family IF you want to.

Teach them about the society they live in (and the worldwide situation), about how they are part of the community, about their rights and responsibilities. About politics and voting and corruption and how the system REALLY works! About history and how all this came about.

Teach them about the rest of the world: Geography, world events and how they relate to history and how it affects them, now. Languages, to help them get by in a changing world. Natural science and environmental studies, so they can understand how the environment they live in affects them and is (or is not) effected by them. Throw some travel in the mix, it’s a GREAT way to teach many different subjects!

Teach them about science (and math), basic principles and how it is relevant to them!

Most important, teach them how to THINK!!

NOT just how to regurgitate facts, or to pass the next test. Teach them how to go about learning about a subject. Teach them how to find the information they need to solve a problem or to answer any questions they may have. How to use logic and how to get past all the advertising and propaganda we all have to deal with constantly.

I think learning HOW to learn is the most important thing we can teach. But I don’t see much of that going on in schools anymore. 🙁

Listen to the lyrics to the song above, do you agree or disagree with Dave?

Why or why not?

The War on Jobs Continues

The War on Jobs Continues.

Here’s another good article from Doug French at Laissez Faire. He does a pretty good job of explaining (in simple terms) how the free market works in the job market. He could do a better job of explaining how government interference through regulations always screws things up, but overall he does OK.

I am simply amazed at the numbers of people in America (and around the world) who don’t have even this most basic level of understanding about economics. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at Americans, considering that most of them are stuck in government schools.

For anyone who doesn’t know the history of government schools in America, the purpose of those schools is NOT to educate the children, but to turn them into ‘cogs in the wheel’. Mould them into compliant workers to fill the factory jobs that we used to have.

Now that we have destroyed those jobs through over-regulation, we have a nation full of people with just enough education to fill those kinds of jobs and none of those jobs to give them.

Along with a number of other subjects, economics was not one of the ones thought important enough to spend any resources on for people intended to spend their entire lives working for GM. 🙁

Our ‘public’ (government) school system has not changed with the times. We are still training people to work in factories when we need to be educating them so they can be entrepreneurs!

In the meantime, because we have not educated them to understand the basics of economics (or much else), we have the situation going on right now (again) where people are clamoring for (another) rise in the minimum wage.

Because they don’t understand basic economics, they think that will improve their standard of living. It won’t. 🙁

Read the article again…

There are so many levels of ignorance and wishful thinking going on in this country, it’s sad really. Yes, it’s true,  the poor and middle classes here are not doing as well as the upper class. But the reasons for that are mostly to do with the government and NOT wage rates!

We are all going into debt. More and more and more! THAT is a huge impediment to a high standard of living (no matter what your income). The money supply continues to increase, causing inflation, which steals more of our income every day. Our government keeps on spending money like there’s no tomorrow and raising taxes in order to try to keep that up.

THOSE are the things that are hurting our standards of living. I could go on, but I hope you get the point I’m trying to make. Raising the minimum wage won’t really solve anybody’s problems, it will only delay the inevitable and make it worse in the long run.

I read a post, (“Dead Broke”), this morning by Joseph Rathjen. He writes the “Political and Social Chaos Blog”. It ties right into what I’ve been talking/thinking about. Economic illiteracy. Elites vs the rest of us. Amount of income a person has vs standard of living (personal happiness level).

The fact that ANYONE could believe the Clintons were “Dead Broke” (the way WE mean it when WE say it) says it all. I’m not sure how many people really believe it, or if it’s all just the usual media propaganda, but it seems at least a few people fell for it.

You ought to read Rathjens post. He makes some good points. I would take it even further. People like the Clintons belong to the class of the ‘global elites’. They are not JUST rich. They are rich and POWERFUL.

There is a group of people who are very rich and powerful and THOSE people do NOT care one whit for the rest of us!

THAT is why it is SO important for the rest of us to be educated! We need to know enough about how the world really works so that we don’t fall for their BS! We need to know enough to fight back when someone proposes a plan that might look good on the surface but will eventually work against OUR interests.

The latest minimum wage proposals are just one more example of this. It’s sad. Most people still don’t understand how things work. 🙁

Capt Jills Journey into History: Houston Maritime Museum

It’s already time to go back to work. It seems like I just got off!

Yes, I did have a couple of weeks at home. Tomorrow would have been 3 weeks. WOW! It sure flew by. 🙂

I have been pretty busy this time home. I went up to Houston a couple of times. I went to the Houston Rodeo (yeehaw!). Only my 2nd time in all the years I’ve been here. It was fun, I watched the barrel racing and the mutton busting. I tried the fried Snickers ice cream sundae (yummy). Took TONS of pictures. 🙂

I was hoping to meet a friend who was volunteering at the Wine Garden. I did actually meet her, but she was pretty busy by that time and I was on my way out. I was on the way to a meeting with the Sail La Vie sailing club I belong to (check out my post on last Saturdays sail).

That was an interesting meeting. 😉

I spent the night up there in Houston. I had planned to go to the zoo in the morning since the weather looked nice. Apparently everybody else in town had the same idea. I couldn’t get into a parking lot anywhere within a half mile.

I decided to try something else instead. I decided to check out the Houston Maritime Museum. It was actually pretty close to where I spent the night and the Zoo but I drove around for a while looking for it.

I finally found it and was glad I did. Of course, yes, I am always interested in a good maritime museum. 😉

This one didn’t look like much from outside, or even when you first walked in. But the more you wandered around, the more it opened up. There was something interesting to see around every corner.

The Houston Maritime Museum was founded by James L. Manzolillo (merchant mariner and cruise ship lecturer), and opened to the public in 2000. Since then, it’s worked to educate the public about maritime history and the continued importance of the maritime industry to Houston and the State of Texas.

I enjoyed exploring rooms full of models recreating everything from aircraft carriers (including tiny little airplanes on deck) to Liberty ships to semi submersible drilling rigs to the USS Constitution and famous ships of the age of exploration.

The museum counts Master Modeler and restoration expert Lorena Alvarez as a valued member of the team. Her expertise shows! The time and effort that goes into building even one of those models is just unbelievable and they had dozens of models!

They had an excellent collection of navigation equipment: sextants, astrolabes, starfinders, compasses, barometers and barographs, etc.

They had a nice display of ships (and other things) in bottles. I still don’t really know how they get all that done, but it looks like a good project to work on if you don’t have a blog or another hobby to keep you busy at sea. 🙂

They had a mock up of a ships conning station with the ships wheel, compass and engine order telegraph.

They had a room covering war ships and it had a pretty good exhibit on how the merchant marine functioned during war time. Convoys and Liberty ships, sinkings, explosions and other disasters, navy escorts, etc.

They had a room with memorabilia from the old cargo liners and another display of things relating to the passenger liners “Titanic”, “Olympic”, “Britannia” and the SS United States (still one of the fastest ships ever!).

They had a room to tell the history of the Port of Houston. It did a pretty good job of explaining how important the Port was and still is to Houston. How the founders built up Buffalo Bayou and brought cotton and sugar to/from Allens Landing and all up and down the Bayou. Those old photos were really fascinating!

There was another room full of really interesting stuff from the oilfield. There was a painting and write up on Howard Hughes’ (spy ship) Glomar Explorer. There were models of drillships, floating production facilities and semi submersibles. There was a nice little section on whaling (not much of that going on in Houston). 😉

They even had a room just for the kids to learn about maritime stuff. The day I was there, it was still a work in progress. They had costumes for the kids to dress up in and have fun pretending to be ships captains, pirates, mermaids, engineers, etc. 🙂

One of the staff was working on installing a cushion for the floor in the kids room and I started talking to her about the museum. Turns out she was the Director of Operations so I got a really good person to talk to and answer all of my questions.

My biggest one was: why in the world was the Maritime Museum located in such an out of the way place and not nearer to the Ship Channel where people would expect it to be? Turns out, they are in the process of building a new place right over there and it will be opening in 2014 for the 100th Anniversary of the opening of the Houston Ship Channel.

That will be a good move for the Museum, for the Port of Houston and for the general public. It should be easier to find and they will have a partnership with the M/V Sam Houston (which gives free tours of the ship channel), that should help both parties.

That tour is a very interesting thing to do too, especially if the weather is nice. Free boat ride! Woot Woot!!

It really is amazing all the things that go on in our own backyards and most people have no idea. The maritime industry is one of those things that I think more people would be interested in if they only knew about it. I think the Houston Maritime Museum will be a good place to go to learn more about it and I hope more people will take advantage of the opportunity. 🙂

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Einstein on Education

I’m sure not going to say I’m anywhere near as intelligent as Einstein (duh!), but these quotes of his at least let me know I’m not as stupid (or crazy) as a lot of people think I am. I would much rather know Einstein agrees with me than a few yahoos on Facebook! 😉

I think everybody on this earth is in general equivalent. NOT equal, but equivalent. There is a difference! We all have brains in our heads and our capacity to reason is what makes us special (or at least a large part of it). We all have things we’re good at, things we’re not so good at, things we suck at. No one is perfect. We all have to work together to make a well functioning society. Each of us has our part to play.

One of the things I really like about shipboard life is that it’s very clear there that we’re ALL there for a good reason. We’re ALL necessary for the proper functioning of that vessel. The lowest man is just as important in the scheme of things as the master.

I think that general attitude should be more prevalent in general society. We’re all born with the same rights. We’re all equal under the law (except congress it seems- who can’t understand that they are ILLEGALLY exempting themselves from the ‘laws’ they create for the rest of us).

Our educational system has been going downhill for decades. Have you ever seen that test that’s been going around online? I think it was a grade school graduation test. I’m running out of time this morning, but I’ll try and find it and post it here tomorrow so everyone can check it out. I’ve got 2 college degrees and I would have a hell of a hard time passing it!

If you look at the history of our educational system, you’ll find that we were doing just fine up til the 1960’s or so. It took that long for the ‘public’ educational system we borrowed from the Germans to really take hold and ruin OUR system. It was based on training people to work in an industrial society.

Schools became little more than babysitters where kids were told to sit down, shut up and DON’T question authority! Back in the old days (before ‘public’ schools), everyone who wanted an education could get one. We had TRUE public schools then, founded and controlled by the COMMUNITY. Back then, people were taught to THINK for themselves!

Most people did fine without a college education. Most people TODAY would probably do fine without one (IF they could get a decent grade school and high school education).

I really hate to see so many young people get themselves into such humongous debt loads, especially when they’re just starting out in life. It’ll take them years to pay off their college loans. For what? How many people go to college now and don’t get a job in their field of study? I’m one. I’ve never seen a job in any way relating to my degree (math) since I graduated in 2001.

Our schools no longer teach people to think. They haven’t for a LONG time. Maybe we should take a long hard look at our educational system and see if we REALLY want to keep on training our kids to settle for being a ‘cog in the machine’, to fit into the corporate culture? Or do we want them to be able to develop to their full potential?

Saving Democracy with Civic Literacy in America 101

Saving Democracy with Civic Literacy in America 101.

I liked seeing this article (in Utne Reader) and I really agree with pretty much everything they said about the need for civic education. I remember we used to have classes in civics in elementary school. I still remember a lot of what I was taught then and I still really believe in all that stuff. I am a strong supporter of the constitution and wish more people around me were. I think people need to have a good understanding of the constitution and the principles behind it. I do disagree with the writers when they say that what made our country great was BIG government! WOW!! I totally disagree with that! In fact, I think its the complete opposite. We became great because we had the FREEDOM that having a SMALL government gave us! We are still living off the productivity those years provided. Now we are losing our freedom, our prosperity, our strength and influence in the world because we have strayed from our founding principles and our government has become so huge it has taken over everything here. You can’t do ANYTHING here anymore without government somehow being involved. You can’t get though a day without breaking at least one law anymore. There’s a book out, its called “Three Felonies a Day” by Harvey Silverglate. I haven’t read it yet but just the title makes it sound like something I would really get into 😉

WOW Conference coming up!

I wanted to get this out there in case anyone was interested and planning to go this year. WOW = Women on the Water. I haven’t had time to check into it much myself yet. At the moment it looks like I’ll be off and so will plan to go. Its going to be Oct 31-Nov 2 at SUNY (Bronx, NY). Here’s the link to the website. Its

If anyone is interested in going, be sure to contact me. We can be sure to get together at the conference. I went to the one at Texas A & M in Galveston a couple of years ago and had a blast! Come on, a couple hundred SEAFARING women??? You know we had a great time 🙂

PS- men ARE welcome too