Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid

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Wow! This one looks great! (Available in the fall)

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Travel Books & Games

Who would have guessed it? Tell your family and friends that you will be traveling around the world and they will gift you with some great travel-themed stuff over the Christmas holidays! Here is a round-up of our lovely new books and games:

The Rough Guide to First-Time Around the World (2016)

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Crocodile Creek Discover World Animals Puzzle

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Atlas of Adventures: A Collection of Natural Wonders, Exciting Experiences and Fun Festivities From the Four Corners of the Globe

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The Great Journey by Agathe Demois

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The Middle Child Syndrome: a.k.a. “Harry Potter & the Cursed Child”

I was talking with a friend the other day about the new Harry Potter play (I am an avid lover of the Harry Potter stories) and was describing it as ‘a cautionary tale for the case against boarding schools.’ I don’t think it is spoiling the new play for readers by saying that Harry is struggling with his relationship with one of his children, that has been pretty clear in the play’s advertising. My suggestion to my friend was that if Harry’s child wasn’t shipped off to Hogwarts for large portions of the year their problems would have been resolved much sooner!

Potter Family

My friend, who is by trade a psychologist specializing in children and families, asked if the child in question was Harry’s middle child? Aha! The middle-child syndrome! Of course. G-Man was quick to remind us of this great AsapSCIENCE video about the effect of birth order on children’s personalities.

Definitely some similar themes in “Harry Potter & the Cursed Child!!”

Germs & Genes

I’ve just finished a course on the History of Science and wanted to share some neat resources:

Philip Ziegler’s The Black Death is a fascinating read about the spread of the bubonic plague throughout medieval Europe. Thoroughly gross (pus, pus, and more pus) and decidedly depressing (“Let’s blame the plague on the Jews, round them up and slaughter them!”), it is also useful for increasing the amount of trivia you have at the ready to gross out your friends and family. For example, to prevent contracting the plague just hang out around latrines and breathe in the fumes, it worked (not really) for the Europeans!

Ziegler

Continue this theme with a rousing game of Pandemic and feel completely paranoid and compelled to wash your hands repeatedly.

I was also fascinated by this great video by CGP Grey on the importance of the environment on the spread of disease:

I also wrote a paper on the controversy surrounding Watson & Crick’s Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the structure of DNA. Check out Watson’s “memoir” The Double Helix.  It is a quick and entertaining read, albeit rife with sexism. Sexism you say? Hoho! If Watson isn’t busy playing tennis or going to cocktail parties, he is criticizing Rosalind Franklin’s looks and dismissing her brilliance. Franklin was one of the many scientists that Watson & Crick took advantage of in their personal race for Nobel glories. Check out Brenda Maddox’s book on Franklin to learn more.

Travel Idea – Vans & RVs

When I was a kid, my grandparents had a camper van. Man, I loved that camper van. I was hoping to find something similar to take the kids on a road trip this summer but then I looked at the cost of rentals.

And then I had a small heart attack.

Soooo, that’s not happening. But I think I will file it away with plans for a later date. Sometime when I can maybe buy a van second-hand and do a diy transformation into a camper van of my own.

Something like what Christine On did here on her blog Defying Normal.

And what Lloyd Khan has been documenting in his Shelter books.

 

Niagara in the Springtime

We got hit by the last blast of winter last night, I hope! There was enough ice that the school board declared it a “snow day.” Only the second one of the season, not bad!

We did enjoy enough Spring-like days so far this winter that a lot of our family talk has drifted to our plans for the Spring and Summer.

I found a great CSA via Tiffany Mayer and her blog Eating Niagara. Tiffany has a great book about the Niagara region and, my personal favourite topic, food! Check it out!

We also followed a suggestion from one of her St. Catharines Standard articles and tried a local restaurant – Don Wong Mexican Asian Food Mart. They make really fantastic dim sum and burritos. Really fantastic stuff. And you can stock up on Pocky!

We debated a lot about summer camps and threw around some ideas for family vacations… Man, things sure have changed since we were kids. Summer camps seem a lot like resorts now, right? G-Man isn’t really all that interested in water sports or mountain biking so we decided to go with the Brock University Summer Camps. They have great day camps that are more like an “enrichment” idea. Find one that jives with your child’s interests, be it the arts, engineering, robotics, gaming, etc.

We are also planning on building an epic fort in our backyard this summer as well. This fantastic book by David Stiles has a lot of inspiring ideas. We think we may be able to build something like this.

We are a wee bit past the 6 month mark of living in the Niagara region. I think I can safely say that everyone really likes it. The school has been a great match for the kids which, really, was the only thing that really mattered. We have found a few restaurants that we love so far, like Diner House 29 and Rise Above. The new Preforming Arts Centre just started a Film House, which is very exciting, and Mindbomb Records is well stocked, save what I bring home for my own collection!

The Fig Tree

Just a reminder that it’s never too late.  Even the great Morgan Freeman didn’t get a big movie role until he was 52, with Driving Miss Daisy and Glory, and previously he had several careers from being in the military, being a dancer and acting in the theatre.  And even though he never got any respect, Rodney Dangerfield didn’t get his first big movie role (Caddyshack) until he was 59, and sold aluminum siding before that.

Here’s a quote from Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar that hit home recently, saying that, yes, deciding a single future is hard but the sooner you do it, the sooner your life can begin (otherwise, you might lose everything):

 

Quote from The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Click read more to see the full quote in beautiful comic form (by Zen Pencils).

Read More

Traveller’s Tales

I came across this travel series on Reddit yesterday (got as far as when he stores the diamond under his skin – *cringe*) and was reminded of some of the other travel series that I have seen.

I am a big fan of the Long Way Round series by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, as well as their second one when they go the Long Way Down instead. If you don’t know, this is a TV series made with a bit of McGregor’s Star Wars money in which he and his mate travel the world by motorcycle. Very cool stuff. I learned about Russia’s Road of Bones through these shows and also came to really appreciate the diversity and beauty of Africa.

I’ve also seen a few episodes of Michael Palin’s travel shows on PBS (of which there are many). I remember really enjoying the one where he travels in Russia (or Turkey maybe?) and visits a barber. They light his ear hair on fire! On purpose! Oh my goodness.  I also like the romantic one where he crosses the channel on a fancy steamer and mails back his tux when they land. Won’t be needing to dress for dinner anymore!

Searching for those episodes, I came across this lovely little clip by Palin on the Independent where he gives some solid travel advice.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the book Eighty Days about Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s race around the world. This was purely a stunt to sell newspapers, both women racing to beat the fictional Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne.

For our family, the idea of taking THE TRIP is really just a response to having the opportunity to complete a perfect Venn Diagram. JBot really enjoyed talking a year off from work when TRex was born; we really enjoying spending time together as a family; and we really enjoy travelling together. For us it isn’t about capital A adventure, instigating the need to stash diamonds under our skin in case we get into danger, but rather a sort of more mellow, enjoyable experience.

I do rather like Nellie Bly’s advice on packing though (via brain pickings).