Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mikro Wins Nanowrimo!!!

Greenscale’s Revenge
Copyr. 2011, Mikro Coyne
(Dictated to Secretary Mom, who typed it up.)

In the rainforest, it was warm and humid. Monkeys swung through the trees, up in the canopy. Down below, near the forest floor, a group of lizards were gathered together inside a hollow fig tree. There were green ones, brown ones, and red ones. Most of them were red, several were brown and few were green. Some were big, and some were small. They were long and thin, with long tails. At the front of the group, there was an older, fatter lizard, who was the teacher. This was Lizard School. School started every day with a talk about what was to happen that day. Then they would break up in groups and do some experiments. For example, they collected and studied bugs. Their interest in entomology was to find out which bugs were tastiest and safe to eat. Finding out about the habits of the bugs made them easier to find, catch and eat. Today they were studying mantises. A large enough mantis could kill a lizard, but they were dealing with small and young ones.

“The front limbs are called raptorial limbs. They pull them out quickly, stab their prey with the spikes on them, and pull it in to eat it. They also usually eat the head off first, so it will struggle less and can’t escape.” said Fat Tail, the teacher. (A fat tail means a lizard is healthy, so his name was actually a compliment.)

After science class, the lizard students were sent out to hunt for lunch. Once they caught it, they would stop to eat, and then have outside playtime before afternoon lessons began.

Greenscale, a small green anole, had just caught a large field cricket and was about to eat it when he was surrounded by a gang of red lizards. Most of them were bigger than him.

Volcano, the leader, pushed Greenscale off his perch on a rock and grabbed his cricket. “Gimme that, booger breath. It’s too good a meal for a green like you.” Volcano snarled.

Greenscale knew that he couldn’t fight all those reds, so he went to tell Fat Tail that they had stolen his lunch. Fat Tail was not happy to hear about what the reds had done. But he told Greenscale that it would be better to solve his own problem, because the reds might pick on him more for telling a teacher.

Greenscale was quiet in class that afternoon because he was trying to think of a way to get the reds to leave him alone. “Those red guys think they are so much better than me, just because I’m green. Well, I’ll show them!” he said to himself.

The next day, Greenscale got up early and went to the fig tree. He hunted and gathered up three bush crickets and a bunch of very sour green berries. He cut open the crickets and stuffed them with green berry goo. Then he hid them behind the rock that Volcano had pushed him off of.

He could barely pay attention to Fat Tail in morning class. Finally it was lunch time and he went out and got the three bush crickets. As he expected, Volcano and his gang found him. They didn’t even bother insulting him, they just stole his lunch and wolfed it down. “Eeew. There’s something wrong with this!” said Volcano.

“This is disgusting said Firebreath. He was gagging and then vomited up the stolen food. Pretty soon all the reds were puking. They were pale and greenish faced.

“That’s what you get for stealing!” said Greenscale. “Enjoy turning green. You may be bigger than me, but I am smarter.”

Volcano groaned. Greenscale started to feel a little guilty about making the reds throw up. He went and got a sweet mango and offered it to them. “Here, this will get the bad taste out of your mouth. It’s sweet.”

Volcano said “I guess I deserved that. We should not have stolen your food.”

And the reds never picked on Greenscale again.

The End.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

History Fair

This was the third year that Mikro has participated in the NYCHEA History Fair. Kids research a historical figure and go up and make "I statements" about him/her until the audience guesses who they are presenting. Mikro did Leonardo da Vinci this time, and came up with some pretty cool obscure facts to lead off with (If I find his notes, I'll edit to share some of them...). It's fun to learn something new and try to stump your friends.

His favorite Leonardo books were:

The Genius of Leonardo by Guido Visconti and Bimba N. Landmann
Leonardo, Beautiful Dreamer by Robert Byrd.

Some of the kids come in costume. Some present oral reports. I wish I could share all the photos I took, but I don't post recognizable photos of other people's kids without express permission, and I am usually too lazy to seek it... We had (among the costumed) Medusa, Carl Linneas, a Spartan Warrior, King Tut, and some biblical figures as well. There were oral reports on Helen Keller and World War II. Very fun, and the kids were wonderful.

Occupy Wall Street

I do not teach the fairy tale versions of American History and Civics taught in public school. You know, the one where happy pilgrims and indians are bossom buddies, where the government is always beneficent and benevolent and never ever does us wrong, where one man one vote actually results in equal political clout for all, and where the police are always our friends. If you want my radical outlook, listen to Pete Seeger's "What Did You Learn in School Today?"

Anyway, the right to free speech and peaceful protest matters to me. I frequenty exclaim in frustration that I am neither democrat nor republican, because neither party represents me. My son calls me a hippie Constitutionalist. I resemble that remark. I wanted Mikro to see people standing up for what they believe and petitioning our government for redress, so we stopped by Occupy Wall Street to see civics in action, just a few days before Bloomberg's police raid.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Canstruction at the World Financial Center

A combination of art competition and food drive, Canstruction was an amazing site to behold at NYC's World Financial Center. Definitely a fun field trip!

WFC has a slideshow of other Canstruction sculptures, if you want to see more, and a description of Canstruction's mission.

Poets House: We Are Rivers with Richard Lewis

If you ever get the opportunity to attend one of the children's programs at Poets House, take it. And if it involves poet Richard Lewis, prepare to be enchanted. Mikro always has a wonderful time at his programs, and so do I. I never walk out without a new poem in my moleskine. This time, we considered our thoughts as rivers, watched a beautiful performance of Richard's poem, We Are Rivers, and made our own drawing and poem about our rivers of thought. Neither Mikro nor Kev are all that anxious to share theirs (and I can't find them at the moment), but I'll show you mine. I did it as a trifold. My river is ink, flowing onto the page.

Queens Zoo

I lived in NYC most of my life, and have been a member of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the city zoos and aquarium, for years as well, but up until this month, I had never set foot in the Queens Zoo. (That probably has something to do with the fact that people from Brooklyn, like me, tend to view Queens as a strange planet. The street naming scheme, which includes avenues, streets, places and roads all bearing the same numerical designations, makes a Brooklynite cringe... Anyway...)

Well, I have to say, it was very much worth the trip. Queens Zoo is unique among the city's wildlife parks in its emphasis on the animals of North and South America. It was fascinating to watch mountain lions romping and engaging in playful hunt-like behavior, and the Andean bears were quite amusing. Mikro especially enjoyed the aviary, and the Pudu, the petite deer. (And yes, before we left, all three of us were under the strange compulsion to make a Bantha Pudu remark... Cross generational geekiness at its finest...)

And speaking of Sci Fi references, there is of course, this nearby landmark, featured in Men in Black:

NY Hall of Science and Charlie & Kiwi's Evolutionary Adventure

Our first field trip in November was to the New York Hall of Science, where Mikro particularly enjoyed the new exhibit "Charlie and Kiwi's Evolutionary Adventure." He really liked the movie, the computer simulation on finch beak evolution, and the faux dinosaur dig.

He also had great fun with exhibits on galaxy finding, cosmic rays, research submarines and programming a Mars rover.

And we stopped in the library and got our member's library card, which allows us to borrow books. We read a book about finger counting in Africa, and then borrowed two math books. Then we headed out for Part Two of our field trip day...