Tuesday, April 24, 2007

China and Korea

Last week our Asia study was focused on the countries of Cambodia, Viet Nam, Thailand and Laos. Now we are doing China and Korea. (Next week, in case you are wondering, is Japan and India.) Today we listened to a song in Korean called "My Puppy" which I happened to have on one of my CDs of children's music (from Becca's Musikgarten class). I think this helped Natalie really understand that people speak different languages. I wish she had some more multicultural friends; I guess this is one of the advantages of public school. Her current peer group, comprised of children at the church, is definitely all of one ethnicity. Anyone know a way around this?

At nap Natalie got the Hearthsong Matching Memory Game to play with. She really likes this game, and it has tiles for some of the animals we saw at the zoo as well as ones which live around our home. It should serve as nice reinforcement, in a low-key way. In the afternoon we're supposed to be learning how to use chopsticks. This is one of Gini Newcomb's suggestions. She recommends using them to transfer styrofoam "peanuts" from one dish to the next but I think we will try something else, something more natural. I might even take the kids out to a Chinese restaurant for dinner tonight. I bet they would love that!

When we were in Williamsburg I got a copy of Time magazine -- not usually my favorite but an article about global warming was on the cover. This is one of my big personal campaigns so I couldn't resist. Anyway, on their list of 51 things you can do, they suggest planting a bamboo fence in your yard. Now, I have personally experienced the rapid growth and spread of bamboo and I have to say it is a terrible suggestion. I'm sure there are botanists all over the country up in arms about this, as it would completely crowd out native plants. But I do wonder if it is possible to plant bamboo in the highway median strips. Presumably the roads on either side would keep it from spreading (although I don't know how far the root system can go, so you'd have to check with a professional) and this would be a very inexpensive filler for the medians. Bamboo can grow up to 4 feet in a day! Gotta love that growth (as long as it's contained), which is great for absorbing carbon dioxide and they are now saying that if you're going to plant a tree make it a tropical one. Something about the light-colored leaves; I think it serves to bounce the sunlight back out into the atmosphere instead of absorbing it. In addition to being cheap in the start-up realm, this idea also saves money in the longterm since mowing the medians would be a thing of the past. Not to mention the savings on fuel used by the gigantic county mowers. AND local governments could harvest the bamboo and sell it to people who make things of bamboo. It is a very popular material right now because it is so sustainable. Bamboo flooring is apparently trendy in kitchens since it is springy and reduces the strain on your legs and feet as you tramp about while you cook. Does anyone out there have a position in municipal government and can suggest this to the highway people? Or should we all start a gigantic letter writing campaign to Time magazine? If a thousand people write in with the same idea, they'll be sure to print one of the letters. I don't know if it's possible -- although I think it's worth looking into -- but it is definitely better than suggesting that every homeowner plant a yard full of bamboo!

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