Thursday Doors: Luxembourg II

When I was in Luxembourg I knew I would eventually blog about it for Thursday doors. So I took pictures of a lot of different doors. Last week it was old-fashioned doors under arches. This week it is some business establishments and restaurants:

There were often stairs leading to the doors. We didn’t have time to eat at any of these places, but they looked nice. Even the graffiti in Luxembourg is tasteful.

 

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog

ThroughTheGate

Follow my European trip with this and previous posts:

January 24, 2019: Luxembourg I

December 13, 2018: More Brussels

November 29, 2018: Brussels, Part II

November 22, 2018: Grand Place, Brussels

November 1, 2018: Belgian Beer and Chocolate

October 27, 2018: Dutch Whimsy

October 18, 2018: Nordrhein-Westfalen

October 11, 2018: Landschaftspark

September 21, 2018: Pattensen

September 6, 2018: Birdhouse Cache

August 30, 2018: Achtung, Baby!

August 16, 2018: Ku’Damm

August 9, 2018: Berliner Dom

July 20, 2018: Berlin Walk

June 13, 2018: Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg

June 7, 2018: Germany

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#WATWB: Three Wishes for Ruby’s Residents

I’m always late with the We Are the World Blogfest, but the month isn’t over yet! (As much as we all might wish to leave January behind with its cold and snow).

The story I chose this month was first shared by a couple of my Facebook friends: A 5th grader’s boredom while visiting her mom’s job led to $30,000 for the elderly in need. My first thought was, 5th grader? I’ve been teaching 5th graders this week. They are sweet and fun, but they can also be a little self-centered and disorganized. (This is developmentally appropriate). But the 5th grader in the article, Ruby Kate Chitsey, has organized a way of getting lonely seniors in the nursing home where her mom works items that they need and that make their lives better. Her 5th-grader-ness is an asset here because, as her mother says, they will tell Ruby things they wouldn’t tell an adult.

Many of the seniors are on Medicaid and have no money left for extras. Many of them also no longer have family to fill in the gaps. This is where Ruby comes in. She collects requests in an old repurposed notebook. These requests are usually easy to fill: fresh strawberries, a haircut, a new pillow, a Happy Meal.

Ruby now has a GoFundMe account, which has raised more than $30,000 for residents in five nursing homes in Arkansas.

This story resonated with me because I saw my Grandma in a nursing home and I am now seeing my parents aging in a senior community. I have been thinking about what I want to do when the time comes. I read an article recently about co-housing for seniors. I hope I’m well enough to do something like that. It’s heartbreaking when the want of such small things can make such a big difference in someone’s life.  I applaud Ruby for making people’s lives better!

The We Are the World Blogfest (#WATWB) seeks to spread positive news on social media. Co-hosts for this month are: Inderpreet UppalSylvia Stein, Shilpa GargSimon Falk, and Damyanti Biswas. Please stop by and say hello!

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. Link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month.

3. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. The more the merrier!

4. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

5. To signup, click here to add your link.

We are the World Logo

 

Mundane Monday: Nurse Log

This week’s Mundane Monday theme is “Nurse Log.” That means I learned something new this week. nurse log is a fallen tree which, as it decays, provides ecological facilitation to seedlings. Broader definitions include providing shade or support to other plants. 

hongkongkaren

I have seen these many times while out geocaching and hiking, but I don’t often take pictures of them. However, I may have something that’s at least close in my travel photos from Hong Kong a couple of years ago. It’s very humid there in the summer and there is a lot of growth. This tree is almost completely covered in moss.

nurselogpanorama

The heat and humidity make a lot of trees like this. Here too you can see the rough moss covering on the branches silhouetted against the sky.

victoriapeak

For Dr KO’s Mundane Monday prompt #196.

Thursday Doors: Luxembourg I

Leaving Brussels, we decided to visit Luxembourg by driving through. It isn’t hard to drive through all of Luxembourg in a relatively short trip. I was there once before, when I lived in Germany for a summer as a student. I took a cheap bus trip to Luxembourg, which turned out to be a chance for the tour company to try to sell us fur coats on the bus. My German wasn’t good enough to be able to pay attention, so the hard sell was lost on me!

This time I was more interested in geocaches and doors. These doors were close to the center where the parking and the monuments were.

 

They didn’t all look like that. Some were more modern and painted.

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And then we went to look for a geocache in some back alleys.

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Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog

ThroughTheGate

Follow my European trip with this and previous posts:

December 13, 2018: More Brussels

November 29, 2018: Brussels, Part II

November 22, 2018: Grand Place, Brussels

November 1, 2018: Belgian Beer and Chocolate

October 27, 2018: Dutch Whimsy

October 18, 2018: Nordrhein-Westfalen

October 11, 2018: Landschaftspark

September 21, 2018: Pattensen

September 6, 2018: Birdhouse Cache

August 30, 2018: Achtung, Baby!

August 16, 2018: Ku’Damm

August 9, 2018: Berliner Dom

July 20, 2018: Berlin Walk

June 13, 2018: Thursday “Tors”: Brandenburg

June 7, 2018: Germany

Mundane Monday (on Tuesday): Gulls

Do you take pictures of gulls? asks Dr. KO of the Mundane Monday challenge.

gull5
Enquiring minds want to know

Surprisingly (since I don’t live particularly near a beach): Why yes, yes I do!

gulls2
Carmel Beach City Park, Carmel CA

I read and was a fan of Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach in high school, and perhaps because I didn’t grow up near a beach, I still have a romanticized view of these opportunistic scavengers.

Gulls following a cruise ship in search of food they can grab off passengers' plates
Gulls following a cruise ship in search of food they can grab off passengers’ plates

I am a very amateur photographer and I don’t use any special equipment other than my phone to take pictures, but if there is a gull flying around, I seem to be unable to resist trying to capture it in flight.

gullsinarowsunset
Asilomar State Beach, Pacific Grove CA

A few years ago I went to Carmel, Big Sur, and Pacific Grove for my birthday, and there I hit the gull jackpot (and probably drove my husband crazy), taking pictures of gulls flying silhouetted against the pink sky of sunset.

gulls4
Make them fly in formation!

Traveling, I have found gulls to be a world-wide phenomenon. They, not bluebirds of happiness, fly over the White Cliffs of Dover.

gullsdover

And across the English Channel:

And even in deep mid-winter, there they are:

gullslaketahoe
Lake Tahoe, near the CA-NV border

They don’t need skis to fly!

 

Motion

December 20th 2018 was my last day at my old job. I worked as an instructor at the educational non-profit, Science from Scientists, for over 5 years. Fittingly, my last day took place at Lipman Middle School, the same school I started in when I moved to CA in 2015.

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View from the Lipman parking lot, my first day, in 2015

Nestled on the side of San Bruno Mountain in Brisbane CA (pronounced “Briz-bane,” not like the “BRIS-bin” in Australia), Lipman is in an idyllic environment. Like many public schools in CA, it comprises a collection of smaller buildings, which students walk between and among to get to classes. (One aspect of school I always disliked when I was a student was the “closed campus” rule that students couldn’t leave the grounds during school hours. If they did, even to go to, say, the pizza place across the street for lunch, they faced severe consequences. Suspension for getting a slice of pizza—a strange prison-like mentality.)

parkinglot2016
Almost the same view, a year later

Lipman, though, has an outdoor classroom the woods, and we were able to do some of our SciSci lessons outside. Beanbag tossing with prism goggles could get a little rowdier than usual outside, and no one would mind.

beanbagthrowing
Tossing beanbags at a target while wearing prism goggles. “Altered Reality”

Other days, we fished, we looked at the moon, we made DNA origami, and we built models of brains.

Our last class before Christmas break was a lesson called “Rover Restraint.” Many schools do this: students have to build a contraption to keep a raw egg from breaking when dropped from a height of around 8 feet. In our version, we compare it to landing a Mars rover like Curiosity.

And to keep expectations in check and the playing field level for everyone, we limit the planning and building to one class period, using only the materials we bring with us from SciSci. I stand on a stool and drop each entrant from the same height. This procedure usually leads to a nice mix of some eggs cracking and some surviving, and a range of designs and budgets, making it relatively straightforward to pick a winner. (The winning group gets a nice set of SciSci pencils!)

Onward and upward! I’m going to miss Lipman, and Rover Restraint. This post is 2 weeks late for Dr. KO’s Mundane Monday prompt, Motion.

parkinglot2018
View from the parking lot in 2018 during the devastating Camp Fire, 180 miles away

 

Thursday Doors: Mural

I started a new full-time job last week. I’ve been too busy with it to blog about it in detail–too busy to blog at all, in fact. But I wanted to get started again with this week’s Thursday Doors.

Behind the school where I work, there is an astroturf “lawn” and a basketball court. There are also some picnic tables for the students to eat lunch. And a door.

sciencemuraldoor

Students painted this mural, with names of famous cultural figures, next to the back door last year. I like how they included two genders and several nationalities. I spend a lot of time looking at this mural when I’m supervising student lunch.

I have showed a school, with murals, in Thursday Doors before. That school was a more typical California public school, with a lot of separate buildings.

treepainting

My new school is different. It is located in a former office building in San Jose. Architecturally it is unusual for a school too, with a lot of windows but not much in the way of athletic facilities. These students are more interested in science than sports anyway.

sciencemuraltable

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog

Book Review: In Numina by Assaph Mehr

In Numina (Stories of Togas Daggers and Magic, #2)In Numina by Assaph Mehr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have not read the first volume in this series, Murder in Absentia, and it was not necessary to have done so to enjoy the second one. This book’s strengths are world building and the seamless integration of the world into the mystery plot. I also got the sense that the characters are becoming more well-rounded as the series progresses.

My knowledge of Roman culture is superficial, and so I found the world of Egretia to be fascinating, from the Roman Numerals that number the chapters, to the sporting and debate contests, to the theology of the Numina themselves. I suspect a classicist might be bothered by the liberties taken with magic in Egretia the way I am by silly neuroscience in science fiction, but for the intelligent lay reader, the author’s research presents a pleasing and believable world. The magic fits well with the materials and knowledge available to its inhabitants. And I loved that the climax of the book came at a trial with a famous orator showing off his skills.

Unfortunately, for me, the plot took a little too long to get going. I picked the book up and put it down several times before I really got into it. Felix and his sidekick-and-sometime-love-interest, Aemilia, spend too much time investigating haunted houses in which nothing much happens except that the reader is given a detailed description of the truly gross and horrifying demise of the former occupants. I think that for such scenes, less would be more, and I found it somewhat difficult to suspend my disbelief that there wouldn’t be more swift and serious consequences–both legal and social–for a landlord whose tenants died such gruesome, unexplained deaths.

So in these early sections of the book I found the romantic subplots a bit more interesting than the main plot, in particular Felix’s relationship with Cornelia. I was a bit surprised to learn in the bonus material that Cornelia, a widow and Aemilia’s mother, was only a few years older than Felix himself. The love triangle between Felix, Cornelia, and Aemilia was something new that I haven’t seen much of in fantasy or anywhere else.

I was glad that the female characters were not simply ciphers or cliches, but I still felt that they could have had more depth. Felix was a decent narrator and came across as thoughtful and level-headed, but his voice was a little generic. He was neither a relentlessly logical Sherlock Holmes nor as introspective or passionate as I might have liked. He seemed only intermittently capable of strong feelings, and I wondered about the origins of his ability to compartmentalize them. The allusions to his lost love, Helena, are tantalizing but very incomplete. Perhaps here is where I would have benefitted from reading the first book the most. Overall this is a well-done series with an intriguing protagonist. I am interested in reading more!
View all my reviews

Thursday Doors: Fierce Cat

Early in the morning, before sunup, there was a crazy ruckus at our back door, the one that leads out onto the back deck. Sadie, our cat, was yowling and hissing.

BackDoor

Then she attacked at something she could see through the glass door. There, on the other side, barely visible behind the reflection of the room lights, is her foe slinking away.

BlackCat

Note: this is not Sadie’s reflection. She is a tabby/Siamese mix. This is a neighborhood black cat with white feet. I haven’t been able to get a good look at it or picture of it yet.

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog