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Over the Thanksgiving break, I read Mark Bittman’s Food Matters, which deals with how the nature of factory farming in the U.S., Brazil, and China threatens to overwhelm the world with bad food choices.  Bittman is a food critic, and he’s not interested in browbeating his readers.  Mostly he wants to get to the recipes, and drives home the point that you should really read Michael Pollan for the latest updates on what the industrial food landscape is doing to the landscape and your body.  I’ve read Pollan, but I didn’t have a good sense of how to fix my dietary habits from reading him, other than go to the farmers’ market.

Did you know that Americans, on average, get 7% of their calories from soda? I didn’t.  I’m horrified all over again.

Bittman repeats Pollan’s advice: “Eat food. Mostly plants. In moderation.”  It’s pretty good advice, actually.  Bittman goes further.  He says, “Eat vegan or strong vegetarian until sundown.”

Friday morning after Thanksgiving, I began this routine.  I’ve skipped out on eggs in the morning, made a pot of beans and another of pearled barley, and I have bread rising on top of the fridge.  Last night, I had two colleagues over for dinner.  I made Bittman’s paella from Food Matters recipe, which was delicious, and concluded with Alice Waters’ recipe for chocolate truffles, which is divinely diabolical. We ate very well.

Among the things we discussed were the differences between independent schools or private schools, and public schools.  In public schools, teachers gain rewards from moving into a school and staying put.  In private schools, teachers move up the ladder of responsibility by moving around every few years.  It didn’t take much discussion for us to realize that a few public school principals we knew had simply hung on in the same school system, year after year, and then got promoted out of one school system to the top of another.  In independent/private schools, most but not all of the successful (and good) administrators we knew had been hired away from another school, and worked for four or five years in middle management at a new school, before moving on to another job at the top of yet another school.

In a playful sense, this means that public schools are run by and for farmers, and private schools are run by and for pastoralists — public schools are all about settling down, and private schools are all about moving up and onward.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving, all who celebrate it. To everyone else… to paraphrase an Australian friend, “aren’t you glad the Brits didn’t send the religious wackos to you?”

Ah, well.

I spent part of my vacation with my mom and dad, who live about an hour outside of New York City. We never participate in Black Friday madness in the city, but instead usually visit a museum or two.  Thanks to another (non-Australian) friend, I acquired a new app for my iPhone called iTimeLapse.  It lets you assemble photos into a sequence that forms an absolutely brilliant, quick time-lapse movie, which you then can share with Vimeo, or YouTube, or mail to your friends.

Here’s one of mine, from the Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design…


And here is the Museum of Modern Art:


I wasn’t able to do this at the Kandinsky exhibit at the Guggenheim at all, and due to overcrowding (it was “students for free” day at MoMA) I couldn’t get anywhere near the Tim Burton exhibit that’s going on right now.  But it’s amazing to me that this technology is so cheap, and readily available.

Does it take practice? Yes.  I needed to be a lot slower and more deliberate as I moved around the museum.  And I needed to be much more precise about how I carried the camera… I mean, iPhone.  And I needed to shorten the period of time between one frame and the next.  But as a quick proof-of-concept, I was pretty pleased with how these two shots turned out. Look for more such photo series in the future.

The thing that I’m a little surprised by, though, is the powerful degree to which this is a disruptive technology.  One person with such a camera can stand unobtrusively in one spot for a long time, and make a very long movie indeed with such a device, and such software.  Your students, or mine, could create a time-lapse photo series of lecture notes, or a concert, or almost anything at all really.  They could create a new soundtrack, or write a new narrative…

I’m going to have to think how I’ll use this in the classroom, and to what purpose. I think it’s cool.  I’m just not sure how to use it yet.