Friday, August 31, 2012

Alex And Origami / Parent - Teacher Night



Song:  What A Wonderful World

Rendition:  Calikokat






Alex, and I, going over his future projects for all of his classes.

During the first week of classes...
I looked at the various syllabi to prioritize his projects by due date 
and by difficulty.  I had to ensure we had enough time allotted to comfortably
complete the long term projects without unduly impacting his shorter term projects...
while leaving plenty of time to adapt to later assigned projects.

----------------

In Alex's Geometry class last week...
he was assigned to make an Origami Crane.

Origami 
(precision folding of a medium...usually a bright colored paper or foil...
to make 3 dimensional shapes)...
is very good practice for spatial relationship skills.

Alex had some difficulty with the assignment.
Alex's teacher advised him to look it up on YouTube.


Alex learning how to make an Origami Crane on YouTube.



Alex made mistakes in the folding at first.
He had to keep replaying the portion of the video which had shown 
the correct folding.


Success.



Alex writing his name of the crane...
as he had to turn it in to his teacher the next day.


--------------------


Last night...
Alex's school had hosted a 7th grade Parent - Teacher get together.

It was held in the school's gymnasium.

The teachers had a beef and lamb mixture on a vertical skewer being slowly roasted
just outside the gym.  The school staff had provided a Turkish ethnic meal for all in 
attendance.  There were tables and chairs set up.  Parents got to meet parents...
and their children's teachers.

The teachers had a slide presentation prepared.

The Dean of Academics for the High School gave a presentation
on the goals of Coral Academy Of Science
(College preparatory school)...
and how they are achieving their goals through their advanced courses...
and their student support system.

As Alex's school is moderately sized
(in comparison to public schools)...
the Dean of Academics had shown how they track each child's
progress in each subject so they may provide early intervention...
 to either supply tutoring or to give them more advanced options (AP courses).

He also explained how they continue tracking (through a national data base)
their graduates' progression through their completion of University.
This provides them the feedback they need to ensure they are providing the 
best college prep for their students.

Afterwards...
each of the 7th grade teachers introduced him/herself...
gave a brief list of expectations and told us of ways 
the parents could keep track of the assignments online.

Although I was already impressed with Alex's school and his teachers...
I was particularly impressed with his Advanced Math teacher and with his
Social Studies teacher.

Both are new to Coral Academy this year.

The advanced math teacher is originally from Turkey...
and her area of expertise is in Physics.

She seemed to be in her late 20s or early 30s...
and so, had a very vibrant and energetic enthusiasm about her.

She is the new math team coach
(Mr. Gul moved to a whole new position in a testing center).

Her goal for the math team...is of course...Gold.
Her goal for her other math classes is to develop their ability
 to apply their knowledge of math...
and so, to develop a deep respect and love for it.

Alex's Social Studies teacher is also young (about the same age as the math teacher)...
and he also displayed the same youthful exuberance and love for his subject.

He had lain out his very high expectations.
He stresses the writing of papers and everyday assignments.
He stated that it would be difficult to get an A in his class
because he expects initiative and participation...
along with excellent test and assigned reports results.

Alex, and I, will be kept quite busy by this particular teacher... I am sure :) 

At the conclusion of their presentation...
all of the teachers made themselves available for one on one discussion
with the parents.

I had spoken with each of Alex's teachers. 

I was most concerned because many teachers emphasize 
class participation...some base part of their grade on it.

I introduced myself to them and let them know I was Alex's father.

I was greeted with a smile and with enthusiasm.
I told them of my worry that perhaps Alex was not participating much in class.
Each of them said that there was no worry...Alex was very much participating in class...
and in his math classes...he was enthusiastically participating.
Alex's math teacher got bright eyed when she spoke of how Alex 
loves to talk about math problems in class.

With my greatest school worry greatly alleviated
(a general shyness and lack of social interaction)...
I was further relieved to hear how Alex is talking more with his peers...
from a mother of a classmate of Alex.

She said her son had noticed that Alex has greatly improved in his
interaction with his peers on the playground over last year.

I was so glad to hear this.

Each time I see, or hear, how much Alex is progressing in life...
the more I think...
what a wonderful world it is.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stretching The Mind And The Body



Song:  Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

Rendition:  Calikokat




Alex stretches a little before his physical training...
and more heavily right afterwards.

I use this time for Alex's memorization drills for his school work.



Whether it is for Vocabulary, Poem Recitation...or anything demanding
strict memorization...it is not only an efficient use of time...
it is a much more effective way of remembering things.


 While Alex stretches...I ask him various questions.

As the body is stretched after heavy exertion...
and held in each position for at least 1 minute...
the muscles more fully relax (relaxation of the stretch inhibitors of the muscles).



As the body more fully relaxes...so does the mind.
The body's natural opioids (to counter slight stretching pain)...
and stimulants...are released as a natural reaction to the stress of stretching
(discomfort is good - sharp pain is not).

The mind is more pliable and the memory imprint is stronger
(just as it remembers better while using caffeine).

It also has to do with the stimulation of more of the senses.

The more senses stimulated...
even in mere association with that to be remembered...
the better it is remembered.

Special School Military Instructors use this to great effect.

When punctuating important points...
they would often use the startle effect to separate the event to remember
from all of the rest by suddenly slamming their fist down on their teaching
podium...stomping their foot...something unusual...sometimes by
YELLING out the point.

If you forgot something...
they would often have you exercise heavily while repeating the point to be 
remembered...not as harassment...but as a way to punctuate the point so it would
never be forgotten (bonehead remedial training).

Although they probably don't know the neuro-physiological process behind the effect...
they do know that it works.

Alex has a very good memory...
so we just do his memorization practice during his stretching.

Later, when I show him some hip throws...
just for fun...
if he remembers the answer to my question...
he will get to throw me.

If he gets it wrong...
I will throw him.

This will not only be a fun way to memorize necessary passages or formulas...
and to practice the physical arts...
with the heart pumping more oxygenated blood
 and the various stimulative chemicals to his brain...
it is a more efficient and effective way of memorizing.




Sunday, August 26, 2012

Alex Learning The Survival Stroke - New Indoor Pool



Song:  Will You Be There (Theme From Free Willy)

Rendition:  Calikokat



We went to a new neighborhood indoor pool (15 min away).

This one has open swim on Saturdays
(this is going to be our indoor swimming pool from now on...
it is heated year round to 86 degrees).

I will be teaching Alex the very basic strokes...
how to swim underwater...
and the all important survival stroke...
every Saturday.

I will detail the survival stroke later in this article.


For most of our swim...
it was just Alex, and I, in the pool.


We are reviewing the breast stroke.


Although this pool is smaller...
it is perfect for us as the deepest it goes is 5 feet.




I am teaching Alex to swim underwater.



I am teaching Alex the basics of the survival stroke...
the frog kick and small sculling of the water with the hands.



The survival float.

The basic premise is to naturally increase the body's buoyancy by increasing
the amount of air in the lungs...even at rest.  It then becomes a relatively simple
matter of using minimal motion and energy expenditure to propel yourself in the
desired direction.

By floating on your back...
and by arching your back (thrusting your diaphragm outwards)...
it allows the normal resting lung reserve to be more full...
which makes you naturally more buoyant and tire less easily.

The main source of forward drive comes from a modified frog kick.
The modification comes from using the least amount of leg motion to effect
the forward motion of the body.  The whole idea is for efficiency...not speed.

You allow yourself to naturally exhale and inhale
(which is partial...since very little energy is expended)...
during the stroke...a short "ahh" for exhalation...
and a longer relaxed inhalation.

The stroke is done at a leisurely pace...
perhaps one every few seconds.
The idea is to kick and glide...using as little energy as possible.
Think how a squid swims...that is the idea
(the rhythm of it...the frog kick being your jet like propulsion).

The arms give very little in way of propulsion...
just as a fish's forward fins act during swimming.

I had demonstrated this to Alex by locking my hands behind my back
and survival stroking with very little forward motion lost
(you may easily swim with your hands tied behind your back...
or even with your hands and feet tied...
by merely substituting the dolphin kick for the frog kick).

With the survival stroke...
a person may swim for 10s of miles easily...in temperate waters.

This stroke may be taught in one lesson...
and it could save many lives.

Drowning happens because of two basic reasons...
panic results in overextending the body by using inefficient flailing
and tiring the body beyond its capacity to recover.
The person can no longer keep himself afloat because he is relying
on the flailing.  Just as one may only sprint for short distances before the body
starts shutting down...the muscles may no longer contract...
when this happens in water...well...

When in a waterborne survival situation...
it is a marathon...and not a sprint.

The other is in cold waters.
In relatively short periods in cold waters...
hypothermia is the greatest danger.

Even before actual hypothermia sets in...
the body starts to go numb and all energy seems to be lost
(the body shunts the blood away from the extremities to the core to 
limit heat loss and to provide survival temperature to the organs).

I will go into two instances I have been in 
where I had to use the survival stroke to keep myself from drowning...
one in rough ocean conditions (temperate waters)...
and one in very cold waters (snow melt river).

I lived in Hawaii for 4 years (from 17 - 21 years of age).

I loved to swim in the ocean...
mostly in Waimea Bay during the winter swells...
and other beaches for the summer
(I was an avid body surfer).

Once when a particularly large set rolled in...
I had tried numerous times to get back to shore...
but the waves were so big...I was just being rolled in the shore breaks...
and dragged back out to sea.  After numerous times of being slammed
to the sand and rolled underwater...I was tiring.  The large waves had set
up a powerful rip tide which had dragged at least 30 people out to sea.
The lifeguards were busy paddling their extra longboards...
retrieving the ones a mile out.  While I knew enough to swim perpendicular 
to the rip tide...I still couldn't get to shore as the waves were so large.
To have fought the power of the ocean in my depleted state would have resulted
in my drowning.  I merely survival floated to catch my breath...and survival swam
just enough to keep from being tossed on the rocks near the tip of the bay.

I stayed out there until the set subsided...
and I then swam back in.

Another time was actually more dangerous.
There exists in California...many snow melt fed rivers...
which in spring...and into summer...
flow fast and COLD.  Every year...people drown because
they underestimate the effects of the frigid waters on the body.

Decades ago...
I had decided to swim in one of these rivers for the first time.

I knew my ability to swim.
What I hadn't realized, at the time, was the dramatic effects of swimming
in frigid waters for extended periods of time...the deteriorating condition
of the body...especially after heavy exertion.

I was in the middle of a snow melt river...
the current which was stronger than I had realized...
and the effects of the numbing cold on my arms and legs worse 
than I had imagined.

I was soon unable to use them effectively...
my body felt as if I had just finished running a long hard sprint...
all of my energy was being sapped...and I was getting light headed.
I knew then that to try to continue to conventionally swim would be to drown.

I switched to a survival stroke and made it to the side and just lay there recovering
my energy...my body had felt leaden.

In a situation where there is no hope for rescue...
and some milage to cover in cold waters...
what is paramount is protection from the frigid effects of the water...
while making headway toward your own rescue.

The key to cold survival is insulation.
In air or water...there exists a layer of warmer air or water...right next to the skin.  
Heat loss still exists...but is greatly accelerated whenever that layer is disturbed.  

Now, again...
we are not talking about using your clothes as a life preserver...
not as something to float you as you await rescue.

What I am talking about is using your clothes as a makeshift wet suit.

The whole premise behind the wet suit...
besides its inherent ability to insulate against heat transfer...
 is to trap the layer of water next to the skin...
the one that gets warmed by the body...
and to prevent it from getting replaced by newer...colder water.

The whole idea is to arrange your clothes to prevent that warmer layer of water
next to your body from being replaced by cold water as you survival swim.

When there is nothing but your clothes...
your pants cuffs could be torn a few inches and the resulting material
could be used to tie off the pant legs.

Your shirt collar should be buttoned...
as well as your shirt sleeves.  The bottom of the shirt
would be tied off at the bottom.

The whole idea is to prevent new water
 from replacing the warmer water next to your skin...
as you survival stroke.

The beauty of the survival swim is the fact that you would wish to remain
fully clothed (even your jacket) as you would not be using any upper body strokes...
and so you would not need to keep your arms free.

This would allow you to retain more of your core heat.

Remember...
the idea is not to keep from getting wet...
but to prevent a steady current of cold water from washing away
the warmer water near your skin.

And also remember...
with your ability to survival float...
floatation is not your concern...
keeping warm is.



After our swimming...
as we had to go shopping at a local Asian market...
we decided to eat first.

We had decided to try a new Mexican restaurant on the way.


Alex loves his fish...in this case...Trout.


Alex always finishes all his fish down to the bones...
he even scours the meat off of the head.

So...
a hearty meal...
a successful day of swimming...

What is the musical tie in?

Hmmm...
the music from Free Willy 
(a killer whale...and yes...I know...they are not whales but toothed porpoises)...
and a middle aged retired man swimming...
one who has free access to All You Can Eat buffets...
it is a joke that tells itself  :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Alex's Skit: SAM / Dinner In Reno



Song:  I'll Be There

Rendition:  Calikokat



On Alex's second day of school...
he had gotten a bit of homework to complete.

One assignment was to write a two page skit (a miniature screenplay)...
which would be presented in front of the class the next day.

The premise he had to write on was
if he had awakened one day and there were no history.

He had to incorporate three characters 
(there were three in his group at school who would be reading it...including him)...
he had to include a setting and a narrative character.

This was one of those perfect storm days...
where he had multiple assignments to complete by the next day
(or so I had thought).

He also had to practice for an English vocabulary test...
 he had a double sided worksheet of advanced math problems to complete...
a reading assignment...poem recitation practice (from memory)...
finishing an outline for a five paragraph essay on the nature of negative stress
 and his ways of dealing with it (he had two days to finish it)...
and he was in the middle of major testing at his school.

We stayed up until almost midnight as Alex finished up his assignments.

As it turned out...
the advanced math paper wasn't due for a couple of days.

The majority of his time was spent on his skit.


Alex taking notes for his story outline.

Alex, and I, brainstorming...
searching for ideas to fit the assigned paper's premise.

I had just awakened from an afternoon nap...
and I wanted to get Alex started on his paper...
as I knew it would take the majority of our time.

I told him our first job was to stay within the parameters of the premise
(You awaken one day to find there is no history)...
and to engineer a plausible scenario.

We kicked around some ideas.

Alex was leaning toward a person awakening in a hospital with amnesia.
I had corrected him saying that history would still be all around him.

I suggested that if it had to take place on Earth...
it would have to be a story involving the manipulation of time (before recorded history)...
or an apocalyptic scenario where few survivors and no evidence of history remained
(perhaps living under the surface of the earth in cave systems).

I suggested that if it were not to take place on Earth...
it could be easier to explain in only two pages.

Alex said that it should then take place on another planet...
and we had our setting for the story.

We had then discussed basic scenarios where memory could be lost
in a land with already no history...
and we could work it into the story.

With a basic direction to go in...
I told Alex to start on his outline of the story
by first prepping the story in the setting.

The next step would be to break the story into components...
discovery...reactions...missions...results.

With that completed...
all Alex had to do was to fill in the conversations to meet the requirements 
of his outline.

Now...
of course, this is a very simple story...
however, he was limited by the number of pages he had to complete his story in
(we made it exactly two pages in length)...
and he had to do it in ONE night.

There was no way I was going to let Alex sink in this assignment...
there was simply too much to do in too short of time.

Yes...
I did help Alex in this assignment.

No...
I did not write it for him.

Although I had a story in my head...
we had developed it together
(Socratic Method in story development and in the character lines...
ex...(me) How do you think we can make them lose their memory?...
What kind of evidence on the ship could we put into the story that would
  lead the characters to believe they were a colonization ship?...
What would be the very first two questions someone would ask himself 
upon awakening without any history?...
What would this character say in this situation?...etc).

I was...in essence... his editor.

Alex finished his outline...
made his rough draft...
and we fleshed out the story with some new ideas...
he typed up his final draft...
I did some final editing...
and his completed story is below
(he, and two of his classmates read the skit the next day in class.
Alex said the class liked his story.).








Alex's school is pretty heavy on essays and papers (which is good).

Alex did well in completing his assignments.

Last night we took him to another Casino to have
all you can eat Surf and Turf.  Alex deserved a good night out
(Alex had just the Surf...I had plenty of both :)




We had to park a couple of blocks away as Friday nights are popular in the Casinos.







Alex's initial plate...
he got other types of seafood in later plates.


My wife had a mixture from the beginning.


This was my appetizer...
my next plate was Prime Rib (with creamed horseradish)...
my next plate was fire grilled New York Strip with a side of pork ribs...
and then I had desert.

When we go to all you can eat...
I consider that to be my prime directive  :)



One of various vehicles on display in the casinos...
some for show...some to win.


Just as we were leaving...
fireworks started going off just down the street.

How appropriate...
my Royal Family was departing after having just completed a Royal Feast.

This weekend is to be relatively light...
starting next week...we have a major paper to complete
for one of his long term projects (we save them for the weekends...
one of Alex's teachers must post the details of it online next week before we can start).




Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Strength / Conditioning / Skill Training VI - Skill



Song:  Gollum's Song

Rendition:  Calikokat



This link is to a previous article on Alex's schedule.
It delineates the skill training portion and the frequency of application.


Skill training...
when practiced intensely enough...long enough...
can in of itself...provide stamina and endurance training at the same time.


It also provides a means of self protection...
from all of the Gollums of the world.







Heavy Bag Training can provide an intense workout...
and broken up into rounds...
can provide plenty of stamina and endurance training.

While I would love to incorporate roadwork into Alex's schedule...
there simply isn't enough time.  Alex's academics must come first.


Alex practicing a shin kick.

As I had explained earlier...
a curved shield bag is a great alternative to a heavy bag.


The following pictures are of the Grappling.

Do not worry...
in all of the sequences...
I moved very slowly and did not apply any real pressure.

The purpose was to demonstrate the two most basic grappling moves...
ones that are very simple in concept and application.

I first had Alex shadow my movements...
I then demonstrated the move on him...
I then had him demonstrate it on me.


I am showing Alex a typical stance and the subsequent movement
of a typical skilled street fighter.



Basic Headlock




Alex applying a headlock.


I am showing Alex the Hook...


to the Front Chancery.


I wanted to demonstrate the amount of pressure which can be applied through body torquing
(this was done in a VERY slow and controlled manner).


Alex attempting to hook.


I realize that these next shots look funny.

It looks as if we were practicing Tai Chi  :)

I am merely showing him how to hook
 and transition into a Front Chancery in one motion.






Hook...


Pass...


Secure...


 Torque and takedown.


I am a retired Correctional Officer.

While in the facilities...we roamed amongst criminals...and we were unarmed
(except for pepper spray...which I never used...
I've always liked working with my hands  :)

I had used the Hook and Front Chancery 99% of the countless number
of times I have had to take people down over my 23 years on the job. 
 Many of the inmates were larger...and most were much younger than me.

I will later teach Alex some simple chokes.

My son shall not be a target.

I will give him the basic tools that he needs to prosper in this world...
the training that he needs to walk without fear...
the confidence that will come with competence in abilities...
through skill training.

Where honorable men tread...
the Gollums of the world have to skulk.
May that never change.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...