Why the owners of ModernTribe are awesome

A few days ago I e-mailed ModernTribe to point out that their description of this seder plate was a bit homophobic; it linked to the article on My Jewish Learning about how the orange on the seder plate was originated as a symbol of gay and lesbian inclusion in the community, yet the text said it symbolized the inclusion of women. I sensed some censorship and pandering to the mainstream here, so I e-mailed them (for what it's worth, they're hardly the first to misattribute/censor this tradition, but the article even explains this and gives the more accurate explanation).

Someone e-mailed me back right away and apologized and asked me to rewrite the description. They then changed it to what I had suggested almost immediately. I definitely recommend the company, though they (like most Jewish organizations) could of course still stand to include some specifically GLBT-focused and non-white-Jews-focused products.

It costs more to be gay

A few months ago I said I was going to find this article for someone and post it. I don't remember who, or exactly why, but here it is. Along with a bunch of other things, because I got sidetracked while searching for it and got somewhat obsessed with posting things from the NYT.

Our goal was to create a hypothetical gay couple whose situation would be similar to a heterosexual couple’s. ... Here is what we came up with. In our worst case, the couple’s lifetime cost of being gay was $467,562. But the number fell to $41,196 in the best case for a couple with significantly better health insurance, plus lower taxes and other costs.

Poorer families not only speak less to their children, but also say different types of things

I've seen the research many times that poorer/less-educated families use less language throughout the day than wealthier/more-educated families, but hadn't seen the claim in this article that it's different types of language. This seems accurate from my experience though, except I would suggest that the ideal is somewhere in between the two examples.

I definitely notice that on the whole, most of the language I hear from less-educated families is directive around the child's behavior, while the language the more-educated families use involves more questions and is more focused on concepts. The point of the article was of course how less-educated families can make some fairly straightforward changes that can narrow the achievement gap, but I also thought there were some implications that more-affluent families are doing things entirely right, which I don't experience as accurate.

While I have definitely worked with a lot of less-educated families where I feel as if the child is only spoken to if doing something wrong (and often in a vague "be nice" or "don't do that" sort of way that doesn't actually teach language or behavior), I also see more-educated families who don't seem to ever direct behavior. In some cases this seems to cause patterns that look a lot like AD/HD or PDD, where the child can talk at length about various subjects, but doesn't know what "sit down" means or that following directions is obligatory. It seems to me that some moderation here would be ideal, where adults are asking questions and talking to the child about their world, but are also saying "no" at appropriate times and giving directions and expecting them to be followed.

In terms of books, there seem to be developmentally appropriate and inappropriate tactics I see from all sorts of families that don't seem to be related to class or education. Some of the families I work with only read the book cover-to-cover without doing any pointing to pictures, labeling, asking questions, showing the child how to point, or even letting the child touch the book. Many insist on using the exact words/concepts printed in the book even if they're not developmentally appropriate for the child, like saying "cardinal" instead of "bird" because that's how the book has labeled the picture, or talking at length about how "things on this page are red" instead of labeling them for a child who doesn't yet have a lot of words and isn't anywhere near colors. Others seem too focused on being open-ended and exploratory and might be physically present and making interested sorts of faces and noises, but the child seems to only know how to flip rapid-fire through the pages, or scratch at one page, and the parent isn't guiding the child at all. Again, moderation seems to be the key.

An oyster on the seder plate?

Cool idea, but I wonder why not just use seaweed?

Is this a sign that I'm dependent on my gadgets?

I just went to the puter to look something up on google. The laptop was being spinnycursory and I hadn't restarted in about a week, so I restarted it. I apparently couldn't wait the couple of minutes for it to be back up and running, so I did my google search on the iPhone. Sometimes I worry me.

Delores Handy word of the day

This is a little belated, but last week she kept talking about the "spring fun drive."

(For your contribution of just $50, we'll have AN ABSOLUTE BLAST UP IN HERE!)

And this is why I have awesome friends

Transcript from a conversation between a couple I was hanging out with recently:

Member #1 of couple, to me: You seem to have found that joke funny for a really long time.

Member #2, to member #1: Whatever, you're worse.

Member #1: What?

Member #2: You said "compassionate conservative" every time you farted. For six months.

Member #1: Not every time. Sometimes I said "faith-based initiative."

The City of Boston hates me

I parked at a meter to do some errands, ran into a business to break a dollar, and came outside to find a ticket and a BTD van roaring away. Van wasn't there when I went in. Yes, I understand that running in to get quarters is technically in violation of the law, but really, parking people swooping in on meters? They literally appeared, ticketed me, and left all within a minute. I honestly didn't think it was a real ticket at first until I saw the ass end of the van leaving. And their van was illegally parked and blocking traffic while they did this (I saw a white van out of the corner of my eye while getting quarters). Isn't this unconstitutional just like speed traps that are for the sole purpose of revenue rather than addressing a safety concern? Especially considering that you can't get them to come ticket/tow a car that's, say, across my driveway (because that wouldn't generate as much revenue per hour).

So then I went to the mayor's website to suggest that the transportation folks not do this, pointing out that I paid the meter for all but about the first 60 seconds of my time (and paid for more time than I need) and was using it for a short trip to patronize several local businesses in one strip, as the city is supposedly encouraging by having short-term meters. Only the mayor's website is down. FML