Friday, November 6, 2009

Teaching Maths to Artistic Children

Maths is about logic and the left brain, and art is about intuition and the right brain, and have little in common, with little to offer the other, right? Sort of, no. Maths is taught often by rote, with dry explanations and repeated exercises. For busy, big picture minds, it can be very boring when presented that way. Especially if they ask questions about the important stuff. Or are hyper logical! Albert Einstein nearly got removed from school for being retarded, when it was probably the people around him that were slow off the mark. There was little wrong with his (now preserved) mind, just the small view of the educators and his childhood peers. In relation to art, Einstein has been known to say generally "Imagination is more important then knowledge".
For artistically inclined children, their first loves lie generally in 4 areas. Art, music, drama and writing. There is a way to help each type of mind "get" maths.
For writers, those students that excel in language skills, it is very simple. Maths IS a language, a very pure and universal language. Any logical idea can be expressed with little room for error in the clearest of ways. You have an infinite amount of "letters", with fixed values. If you look at page of times tables or addition in logical order, you can see a plane of pure language like a blank page with all the keys to express logical ideas. The rules of mathematics are grammar in pure logic, theoretical and scientific knowledge. If you do a sum or formula, you are expressing a word or sentence, that expresses an idea. Algebra is simply extending this understanding that all mathematicians have.
Musical children like sound. Music is a very mathematical art form, for all of it's emotiveness. If you explain that each number is a quantity, like a sound. 1 might be compared to a high sound, like top C, and ten is a low sound, like concert A. Zero is no sound at all. It is the pauses that make the music, as much as the notes. Showing them the times tables list as a smorgasbord of aural possibility is a great way to gain their understanding. Vibrational rates of sound works well in differentiating quantities. Also for understanding how quantities "cancel out" or "multiply" one another. Sine waves are an excellent teaching aide, and so is the concept of time, both which relate to music and maths. Electronic music is a great tool as well, as it is full of formulas. Using actual sound to get the idea across will implant the idea emotionally in their mind. Also, echoes, resolution and sound space is a great way to teach geometry.
Artists relate to colour, shape and form. If you show the times tables again, only relating it to a complex spectrum of colour, to be used like a palate, they will be delighted at the prospect of maths. Shape and form are good for geometry. Light and colour are great for understanding vibrations and sine waves. For example. if you compare "cool" colours to those in negative numbers and "warm" colours to those in positive numbers, the child will picture it in a emotion evoking way. Mixing colours is an idea that might help them understand the rules of maths, as in some colours mix well, some clash (not a "bad" thing, just undesirable), and some cancel others out.
For children who are socially orientated, relate it to people, and what effect it has on them. Shape and form relate to fashion, the body, and how things look. Hair, make up, etc lends itself well to maths, as in what hair length/colour is what amount (and what is says about who) or whatever fashion of the day lends itself to whatever concept. Also, you have to be precise when mixing chemicals for fashion, or it can go horribly wrong, as any beauty school student can tell you! Maths is like a secret language that "little kids" (and often parents) don't get, so it cliques. If you compare numbers to people, like 1 is a person, 2 is a couple, 3 is best friends, 4 is a pair of couples, 9 is a "magic" or "powerful" group which is very balanced, etc. Groups (pairs, parties or gangs and individuals) make basic maths easy, and is transferred easily to algebra (the letters are "names" for groups, gangs or person in the popularity competition). Also, you can relate it well to the big picture of both the greater society and maths, areas they need to expand their understanding in. After all, Einstein had bad hair, but we remember him still.
Children who are interested in the dramatic arts, they are visual, social, aural and tactile. You can borrow ideas from all these areas. They are either highly observational, or need to extend their observational ability to realise their starry eyed dreams. They need to be informed that methodical observation is necessary to becoming highly observable as an actor or director or camera operator. This lends itself easily to maths, in the effects of light, cause and effect, angling, heights, distances, sounds, shapes, etc.
Here's an idea for physical or tactile children. If the child enjoys sport, relate the mathematics to sport. Scores, positioning, and angles all relate well. If the child is highly environmentally aware, relate it to their area of interest. Physically showing them what you mean (bouncing the ball, or better, getting them to, or physically counting the leaves and petals) really will implant the idea emotionally in their mind.
For big picture children which despair at detail and often are leaders, giving them the task of solving a large project is a great way to interest these self starters. If they can't see why the are doing it, they lose interest. Tell them they will be designing a windmill or something grown up, complex and futuristic sounding BEFORE you give them the skills (you could even get them to individually choose what problem they would like to solve, whether it's sports, art, social, visionary or whatever). Then, as you teach the skills used in maths, they will have a grand idea to relate it back to, keeping their emotional interest involved. This is good for all kinds of children, artistic, leader, social, or physical. The main thing is to get them to grasp the "big picture" of what maths is (a pure, accurate language) and maintain there interest by relating to their, often lifelong, personal emotive interests. Well, those are my musings on mathematical teaching.

One liners

If you are addicted to something, which you need to keep supplying, you are probably needing something else.

When you are young, or not so young, romantic love is often a ruse for what the real problem is.

U.N. Peace Keeping Armed Forces

In the current world climate, globally we have two problems created and compounded by an every increasing and consuming population of humanity. One is climate change, and the other is resource related wars. This leads to mass displacement, acts violating human rights, species loss, and general mayhem and tragic anarchy. Famine, war, weather extremes and disease are natural checks and balances for the problem, but they are harsh and tragic for all involved, and the innocent (such as other species) are rarely unaffected. Education, cultural evolution (which human rights helps with) and technology (using our brains) are a far less painful way to counteract the potential disasters. Here is an idea to counteract the devastating effects of over-population and resource issues.
The United Nations were formed as a global co-operative after World War II to promote peace between nations and to prevent further man-made disasters such as humungus wars. In many ways it has been effective, as we have not had a major war since. However, there has been many, many more wars of a smaller range, of which the U.N. will attempt to tone down with diplomacy, condemnation and, after the war, international war crimes trials. However, when the heat is on BEFORE the atrocities, the diplomats often have to flee. Many a diplomat or world leader has realised that the U.N. really does need more teeth. It can bark, but it has very little bite. It is an ideal with heart and mind, but has a very light body.
If the armed forces of each and every country donated 1% of there troops, time, money and equipment to the U.N. purely for peace-keeping and natural disaster relief exercises, the U.N. would certainly have a bit more clout. Expecting America to be "the policemen of the world" is a white elephant of dangerous proportions. It tempts the power hungry into a path that is damaging for all. However, there would have to be a system to prevent such a large armed force designed purely for peacekeeping and relief work from being used for less honourable purposes. Firstly, there would be unilateral voting involving all nations of the U.N., with unchangeable laws in that fair system (no nation having a greater vote then another), and also, a right for any nation to remove their troops if they see an exercise to be unfit. So if a dictator attempts to take over the U.N.'s armed forces, the majority could remove their forces and regroup once they have been subdued.
This will free up other U.N. resources for the purposes of education, developing cultural growth, and technological advancement for the greater health and well being of the global citizens, including helping the natural resources be managed responsibly, and helping humanity reach it's greater potential.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Natural Remedies For Reducing Methane In Livestock

One of the big produces of methane (a greenhouse gas) is the livestock industries (farm animals). Cows, sheep, goats, pigs etc, produce gas through their digestive system. Here's an idea, although it would only help partially.
Peppermint, or even the weed like mint, is a well known herb for helping digestion and easing stomach gas and cramps. If you gave livestock peppermint or mint (very easy and cheap to grow) in their feed, maybe it could reduce gases. It would also reduce the incidence of bloating, bloating related vet bills, and help make a healthier animal.
You could grow peppermint, or mint, in the field, or add it to hay or grain feed, or feed it to them separately. In the wild, the animals ancestors of modern livestock had access to a lot of different plants. They would graze on a variety of wild, naturally formed grasses, and herbs, and nibble on bushes. Their diets were rarely a monotone of exactly the same plant day in and day out. Near rivers there were rices, on the plains were all kinds of grain grasses. Near forests or in heathers, marshes and plains were herbs and scrub which added to there diet's variety. I would almost guarantee that they ate certain things deliberately for certain conditions. Peppermint would almost certainly be one of those plants.
Observing their wild counterparts in a natural native environment to see what they do to ease certain health problems could lead to all sorts of possible natural cures for livestock health issues. If they nibble on certain bushes or herbs or vines for certain conditions, like stomach pain, gestation, wounds or whatever, growing the plants in paddocks (as ground cover or hedgerow) saves a lot of time and monitoring. You do not have to give the animal the cure, it just takes it as needed. Then, if further help is needed, the animal is observed, like a pet cat eating grass. Nurseries could benefit financially from selling the plants and farmers could save a lot of time and effort after the initial start up, and time and effort is money and health. Some plants grown as trees and bushes in hedges or as herbs could be extended as well as a cash crop.
Sheep and other animals that tend to chew cud, there is a lot of greenhouse gas burped up. In their stomachs and intestines there is a conglomerate of all kinds of interesting bacterias in a mini ecosystem of their own, hopefully balanced for the comfort and health of the animal. Here is another idea. With a little research, a (or a few) good bacteria for these animals, that produce less methane or bad gases, can be isolated, developed and grown for commercial reasons. Like pro-biotics. Then, the bacteria can be fed to the animals, the logical time being when they are lambs or at the milk feeding age. Current systems of economy that sell preventative medicines for livestock could benefit from it financially.
An interesting fact, incidentally, is that herbivores stand facing north while they are grazing. If you are lost in the country and need to know where north is, just look which way the grazers are pointing. That's north. It is a bit mysterious but probably has a very reasonable explanation to why. The how is probably magnetic. Maybe it has something to do with the sun or predators (of the past).

Cud - grazing animals who have more then one stomach vomit up food from one stomach, chew it again, and then pass it into it's next stomach.
Herbivores - animals that eat plants only.
Pro-biotics - good bacteria eaten for their beneficial effects on the digestion, like yogurt.

Half Loaf

There are a lot of people who live alone, or eat alone. Not everyone is living in a family. 1 in 5 never marry, almost half divorce, some are widow(er)s, plenty are single(ish) and living out of home, some are devoted to their careers or other causes. Even if they do live with others, they may eat separately for various reasons. This is not the case for a lot of the global village's demographics, but in some areas it is very much the case. This idea is formed from a niche market that is created by these realities.
Bread is a perishable food product. It gets mouldy. Old bread is a problem for those who eat it, but not in large enough amounts to finish a loaf before it goes mouldy. It is a dreadful waste, costly to the producer, the consumer and the planet in general, as it rarely makes it to a compost bin (accommodation for single people rarely has the facilities for composting, especially in cities), and is bad for bird's intestines if fed to them.
Bakers have an opportunities here for a new product. If they baked half loaves, there would be a lot of people who would buy the product for said reasons. Also, a lot of people who hesitate in front of the bread thinking "Yes, that's easy and quick, oh, hang on, the last three times I bought bread half of it just went off, no, I won't buy it, I'll by a couple of buns, cans of stuff and biscuits instead, at least that won't be wasted." will change their minds. Freezing half the loaf is not always an option as it takes up valuable freezer space (they often freeze meals for convenience), if there is a freezer. If they do freeze the bread, it is a nuisance in thawing, losing quality, taking time. If it just gets too hard, people don't bother. Also, as a baker, you could add a higher price for two halves, thereby further increasing profits as well as reducing waste. Also, the bread will be remembered as relatively fresh by the consumer, inducing nearly subconscious re-purchasing. Also, bakeries and supermarkets would benefit by more frequent visits by the customer, increasing impulse buys.
Well, that is just an idea, but I think it could work, increasing the sales of the bakery, pleasing the customers, and help the planet reduce landfill and greenhouse gases. Also, it is a good idea for novelty breads and market experimentation.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Zinc is used in about 100 enzymes (reactive proteins) as a catalyst. It is used for immune strength, protein production, DNA production and cell division (in fact, no life form could divide it's cells if it didn't have zinc), and wound healing (which requires cell division). It is essential for growth in the young. It is used for the senses of taste and smell (olfactory function). Sexually active men need a good supply. Excellent for colds.
The body does not store it, so it needs to be replenished regularly. Men should have about 11mg, and women about 8mg daily.
A deficiency leads to symptoms like growth retardation, loss of appetite, lowered immune function and in more extreme cases, hair loss, diarrhea, slower sexual maturity, impotence, hypogonadism in boys (small balls), sores on eyes and skin, weight loss, wound healing prolonged, taste (flavour!) becoming strange, and mental slowness.
An excess leads to nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, diarrhea, lowered trace copper, impaired iron absorption, immune weakened, and possibly genitourinary problems.
People with digestive problems, pregnant/breastfeeding people, older breastfed only infants, vegetarians, people with sickle cell anemia and alcoholics risk lowered zinc. High levels of iron or copper reduce zinc and visa versa. Zinc reduces the effect of antibiotics, and penicillamine (for arthritis). Some diuretics reduce zinc.

In food zinc is most famously found in oysters. And rightly so. Seafood is a great source generally. Crab, fish, lobster, beef, pork, chicken, cereal, whole grain, bran, cheese, yogurt, baked beans, cashews, almonds, chickpeas, kidney beans, and peas are good sources.

Favorite Healing Herbs

There are herbs that are excellent for healing, that can be smelt, or applied topically (on the skin). Here are a few of my favourites:

Raw (unprocessed) honey is excellent for applying to open wounds. The sugars act as a preservative, antibacterial. There are other qualities, unknown, in the honey (unheated) that help the wound heal dramatically faster. Not only that, it greatly reduces scarring.

Tea tree and eucalyptus oil are an excellent antiseptic, though diluting it is wise, as it is very potent. It is also good for cleaning and disinfection.

Tiger's grass. This ground cover plant is used by wounded tigers. They roll around on it, exposing their wound to it. I'm not sure what it's properties are, but the animal wouldn't bother if it didn't work, especially when it's life depends on it. Further research is needed.

Clary sage. It does have some antibacterial properties, but it is excellent for premenstrual tension (PMT). Also, it imitates the pheromones, so women generally find it attractive. It is also excellent in shampoo, like all sages, as it adds lustre to hair, especially darker hair.

Aloe Vera. This standard needs little explanation. Great for sunburn, chapping, wounds, scrapes. It can even be consumed as a stomach soother, though I think it needs to be processed in a certain way. The sticky substance inside is the active useful part, though you have to be wary of the skin. It also is great for spiking up your hair!

Peppermint. An excellent digestive as a tea, it is really good for heartburn and indigestion, as well as being very cooling.

Slippery elm bark makes an excellent water softener, breaking surface tension, bubbles up, and lifts dirt well, so is a great alternative to soap.

Melissa, aka. Melissa officialis, is a herb which has antiseptic, antiviral qualities which is good for wound healing. It is used to counteract herpes, acne, eczema, irritated skin, insect bites and stings, neuralgia and shingles. It was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a surgical dressing amongst other things.

Grandma Pisces

In Africa there were animal skins
On her wooden floors, a sausage dog,
And descendants everywhere
Her parents were Quakers
She went to reform school
Which she ran from often
She abhorred birds in cages
Grandpa would feed wild ones
Every day at dawn
She taught me the stories
Behind nursery rhymes
Which applied to both of us
As we both got into scrapes
We would read books in bed
As soon as I woke her
She was a teacher in her time
With a genius IQ of 150
They called her "Fiercy Piercy"
When we emigrated
We lost touch, for a while
When she came, it wasn't the same
A great chasm of communication
Gaped in the gaze, a generation gap
Another time, a different place
Change of culture, changing face
She grumbled and complained
Disapproved oppressively
Because she wasn't what
She seemed to have become
Her real nature was a different sort
Her youthful extremes
Had aged her extremely
She inadvertently taught me
More in death than life
Like a bird flight, and the bird's love
Guided her, between Earth and above
I observed her journey, like a borrowed eye
I have a reference book of memory
Where I learn, from the past, what works
And what doesn't: prices payed, lessons learnt
Skills acquired; And I wonder at her
Hidden life, a wild child of passing ships
Must have wandered into Mysteries
Dark, and light, grounded, and flight
She rang me somehow, blind,
Ending high on a tuneless whistle
She passed like a dreamer's memory
Like an ancient battle of a dying age
It was the turning of a new page
Cruelly leaving orphans
Lost and grieving
The bird is young and free
Once more, I am sure.

Margaret Pierce RIP, 2005?


Rain Making

Rain. An essential to life, loved by the wild and farmers, dreaded by those with no conscious connection to the real world, like urbanites. Soft, good rain paced out so as to feed but not harm with droughts or floods. How does one guarantee such a emotive elemental, which takes it's form around harder stuff yet will always, given patience, wear it down to fine grains?
Let's look at rainforests, the ancient rainmaker. We have long known that rainforests cause their own rain, sustaining themselves and areas around them. They soften and cool the weather by changing the atmosphere in a huge group effort of plants shading, breathing in greenhouse gases and out fresh oxygen, and pinning down dust with humus, moisture and root stock. It is a natural air conditioner, which you can feel and smell as soon as you step inside of one. And the smell is an important clue for rain making. Recent scientific discoveries have shown how, or part of how a rainforest creates the rain, besides cooling the atmosphere. It seeds clouds, naturally. Micro organisms are created in the rainforest and released into the atmosphere, creating a catalyst for the moisture in the cooling air to form around. These micro organisms are aerobacter. One way for us in humanity to create rain using a natural method is to imitate the rainforests. We already, when desperate, seed clouds for rain. If we cultivated the benign aerobacters of the rainforests in an industrial way, and then released them into the air (taking winds into account) around lakes, reservoirs, rivers, dams, farms and wilderness we could get the rain where it is needed. The best time to do it is as the air cools in the evening, when moisture from oceans or other humidifying sources is strong. Cooling the air with forests is a good long term plan. If you are "seeding" for an area where desert has spread or erosion is likely, smaller amounts would be wise, until there is enough plant life to hold the moisture and prevent the damage of element upon element with little Living things as a buffering variable.
In all things natural, it is unwise to take and not give back. Besides the law of karma, it is a way to guarantee long term abundance all round and can even feel good. Elementals are known for their cantankerous dislike for greedy, stupid people, and love of plants and animals in their free state. If they do not get some wild place to reside, they can be dangerous and destructive. Or you can ignore the warning, and just take.
Old ways of humanity in the cause of rainmaking have been many. Tantric methods of the East has often included weather as part of their practise. In ancient Eastern poetry, "weather talk" is code for sex and states of love and mood. Sexual energy is a very potent raw energy, and in conjunction with the tasks of the charkras can be very effective.
A pagan method of rain making, in which it is stressed to only use in an emergency, is to get a bucket of water, and get a broom (both made of as natural a product as possible), stick the handle of the broom in the bucket, and stir whilst visualising a storm. When the water is spinning, tip it on the earth. It was known in older schools of thoughts that storms, especially sudden, unexpected or unseasonal ones, is a sign of witchcraft being done.
Killing a lizard or frog is a way of causing rain according to darker forms of craft. So is pouring water on the ground, or offering wine to "the gods" by pouring a bit on the ground. Then, for the modern religious type, is to simply praying for rain, with faith, and realising that God has their own plans, although "God helps those that help themselves".
Also, in the Law of the Ironic, doing your laundry or washing your car or planning a picnic is an almost sure guarantee of rain!