cyril0

Pizza video

Pizza video

A short video of me making Pizza.  I'm using this to learn Premier Pro.  My second video.

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Home Schooling

Home Schooling

My Take On Home Schooling

This coronavirus (COVID-19) thing may have a silver lining.  Children being home schooled.  

Two of my boys were mostly home schooled.  I was far from perfect at this and if I was going to do it again, I would certainly add some things.  Though, I think both are pretty happy with how it all turned out. 

Here are the basic things that your children will need to carry them through. 

  1. Basic math skills
  2. The ability to read
  3. The ability to write
  4. The ability to research

A good friend worked in a retail store for years and was a supervisor to the cashiers.  The biggest issues with young people is that they didn’t know how to give change.  If the customer’s bill was $15.25 and the customer gave the cashier $20.25, most of them would not know that they should give $5 change.  That is just basic math. 

Knowing the times table by rote is paramount.  That is simple drilling. Over and over.  So they don’t have to think about it.

Reading 

The ability to read is so important.  I found that the most important thing with getting kids to read is to have them read things they like.  A few other things need to go into this.  I don’t believe there is such a thing as dyslexia.  I’m quite sure it all goes to knowing the letters that make up the words and then understanding the meaning of the words.  

One of the best books on this is ‘Why Johnny Can’t Read’ by Rudolf Flesch.  You can get it on Amazon.  I would not teach anyone anything about reading/writing without this book.  

When my kids were young I made sure they saw me read.  Often.  And I would read to them.  Kids learn largely from mimicry.  

Make sure that they really understand phonics. You may have to learn some of this yourself.  There are some great resources online for this: Hooked On Phonics being one of the best. 

Reading makes them literate. One of my sons did not like reading until a friend suggested that he read Lord Of The Rings before seeing the movie.  That he would get more out of it.  Once he got started, he couldn’t put those books down.  Coax them. 

Writing.  Comes back to knowing letters as building blocks for words.  Don’t constantly correct.  Let them write.  My younger son got very little coaching on this but now writes stories and screenplays.  (And they are actually pretty decent.)  

Grammar.  This is important in both reading and writing.  Some schools don’t teach grammar anymore.  To me, that is a damn shame.  Understanding the language helps you communicate.  And the English language is not the simplest one in the world but is the most spoken.  Find a simple text on grammar.  

Grammar books

When you are getting your kids to write, do not correct them on their grammar.  You will destroy their creativity.  This will be hard for most parents.  Just don’t do it.  Teach grammar separately - they will get it.  Also, the more that they read and write, the more sense they will make of it all.  So, really, when they are doing creative writing, don’t correct. No spelling error corrections, no grammar corrections.  No fact corrections.  

Let them do things themselves.  Let them make mistakes. 

Which leads to the next key thing on Home Schooling:

Research

Your child should learn how to research and evaluate data.  Especially now with the internet.  Before the internet, I think it was easier.  Might have been a bit slower but there is sometimes far too much information, now, to wade through.  The key here is getting your kids to question things and not just take things from an ‘authority’:  Parents or teachers or someone on the web that may have a couple of letters after their name or because they are a doctor or politician.  

Get your kids to ask, “Do things make sense?”  This can be tricky but will come with practice.  Like a detective digging deeper into that bit that doesn’t make sense.  I do a lot of research on drug use, pharmaceuticals and street drugs, like marijuana. There is so much false information on drugs and what they do.  Some of these ‘facts’ are proven completely false when you dig down.  Give your kids projects like this.  On subject that they are interested, get them to take a basic premise and establish if true or not. 

How to actually study:

There are couple of other things that are very important.  I mentioned earlier that I don’t put much stock in the idea of dyslexia.  I’ve heard of people completely turning this idea on its head by making sure that they understand the language better.  No more dyslexia. Starting with the letters of the alphabet. Phonics again.  What they are and how they sound.  If one didn’t know that that letter made that sound, how would her or she ever be able to read.  

From that, next step is words.  If they understand the letters and still having problems with reading, there may be words in the material that they don’t understand.  Do not make them guess!  Have a dictionary available that is at the level of the child.  If you decide to just give them a definition, look it up first, or you may be giving them the wrong one.  

This understanding the words is way more important than it may look at first.  It can ruin a person’s ability to do. If you want more on this, contact me.  Here is a link to a free course on learning and study:  

How to Study   I wouldn't let anyone study anything without this information.  Basic stuff.

One of the most important things in any type of learning, is the desire to learn the thing.  If someone has a passion, just stay out of their way.  Sometimes, one might need to help increase a child’s understanding as to why something is important to learn.  History is a good example of this.  When one understands history, one tends to be able to make fewer mistakes. But that may not be immediately obvious to most kids.

A Story

One of my son’s was home schooled early by a family friend for a couple of years, then went to a private school for a couple of years.  Just before he turned 13, he came to me and said, "Dad, I don’t want to go to school anymore.”  My reply was, ‘Fine, don’t go.’  That was the full conversation.  He was interested in movies and the like so I gave him an old video camera that we had and enrolled him in the local theatre.   The camera was one of those big ass things with the full size VHS cassette.  He started making movies. 

He would write out a story, call parents of friends and arrange them all to come over on a Saturday.  He would assign each a task.  ‘You’ are the lighting guy, ‘you’ are the main actor, etc.  Film all day. He would, at 13 years old, shoot a scene from 3-4 different angles.  After dinner and everyone gone, he would go to his room and start editing on his Mac.  He might keep going till 2, 3 or even 4 AM to complete something. 

I spent most of my time just staying out of his way.  Or encouraging him in any way I could.  He was way beyond me in editing and computer skills.  And he was in 3-4 productions at the local theatre.

I would search out obscure Akira Kurosawa films and the like, for him to watch.  Not that he was necessarily going to make films like Kurosawa or any other specific one that I showed him, but he got to see work of the best film makers in the world.  At the age of 13/14. 

When he asked me for better editing software or something to allow him to create some special effect in one of his films, I would happily give him my credit card. I also thought it was extremely important not to tell him what or how to do what he did. 

A few years ago, he got a call from someone that had seen some of his work. They asked him to come to Los Angeles and work as an film editor.  This son is 30 years old now and has several industry awards for his editing skills.  

Just keep putting different subjects and objects in front of them.  At some point they will latch onto something.  And go with it.  Often, at the point, it best to keep out of the way.  They will need to learn things to support their activity.  

There is nothing wrong with a regimen.  Schedule an hour or two for Reading, Writing and ‘Rithmatic.  Then it is, "What do you want to learn today?”  Make sure there is lots of doing, not just sitting at a desk or table.  And not looking at a screen all day.  Kids really need to be moving about.

There are loads of online resources now; so, I think Home Schooling should be much easier.  

Just write these on a wall somewhere:

  1. Basic math skills
  2. The ability to read
  3. The ability to write
  4. The ability to research

And the most important ingredient...: Love! As long as you are spending time with them and they know you care, all will be good.

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Is Scientology a ‘Cult’?

Is Scientology a ‘Cult’?

The ‘Cult’ of Scientology

Is Scientology a 'Cult'?

“If you wish to converse with me, define your terms” Voltaire

I recently had a conversation with a cousin of mine who referred to my religion as a cult.  I was quite taken aback, a little ticked off at her.  She is a decent human being but tends to believe some nasty rumours about what my religion is and does.  

I have been involved with this organization for over 50 years.  I have a lot of friends that are also part of this and most of them are pretty normal. Most.  They have families, work hard and just want to get along in life like pretty much most people in the world.  

I’ve heard comments like, ‘It’s not a religion.’ or ‘They believe in aliens.’   You know, Scientology.

Those comments are kind of meaningless. The people that make those statements, I believe are just trying to make Scientology sound weird.  Most of the key religions have some pretty weird stuff in their texts.  

There was a TV show and has been a movie, ‘exposing’ Scientology.  My sister pointed out that is like going to the Gestapo of the Nazi regime to ask their opinion of the Jews.  

In this world of instant gratification may younger people don’t go past the surface.  They won’t do due diligence, proper research.  Sorry, not just young people.  My cousin is 70+ and won’t take a proper look.  

I have this friend in Calgary, we were sitting around chatting. I thought he knew that I was a Scientologist.  We had chatted a couple of times a month for several years, and knew each other quite well.  Somehow the subject came up and I mentioned that I was a Scientologist.  He looked at me and then looked away for a good couple of minutes.  Didn’t say a word for that time; two minutes is a long time.  He then turned to me, smiled, and said ‘OK’.  Then we continued our conversation.  He basically tried to align the data that he had about Scientology with what he knew about me.  And that was all it took for him to throw out the false information that he’d heard about my religion.  We are still very good friends.

Some people can do this easily and quickly.  Look at two bits of information and figure out which is true and which is false.  Or maybe it is somewhere in between.  Others have a hard time reconciling.  They will like me as I am, hopefully, a fairly decent human being, but cannot fit that with the fact that I’m a Scientologist. The horror!

I hear some people calling my religion a cult.  The problem here is the definition of terms.  Read the Voltaire quote at the beginning of this article.  What exactly do you mean by ‘cult’ when you accuse my religion.  Per most definitions of the word ‘cult’, Scientology is no different than Christianity or Judaism, or Buddhism or any other mainstream religion.  

The definitions, referring to something like Scientology, Christianity or other religions, generally speak of a belief system, religious rites and a deity.  In Scientology, we have a belief system, sort of, we do have marriage rites and such, but the concept of a deity is left up to the individual.  

There is a concept that is promoted in Scientology that ‘what is true for you is what you have experienced to be true for yourself’ - this concept is attributed to the Buddha.  You can’t force belief.  If it works for you, great.  All is good.  If not, well, that is your observation, your choice.  

I have very good friends that are not Scientologists.  I have very good friends that are Scientologists.  I have very good friends that are no longer Scientologists.  

BUT, if you attack me and/or mine, don’t expect me to be your friend.   I have another relative who continually badmouths my religion online and to friends.  Then complains to the same that I won’t hang out and be pleasant to him.  I really don’t want toxic people in my life.    

Most governments of the world have acknowledged Scientology as a bona fide religion.  Religious leaders throughout the world have acknowledged Scientology as a bona fide religion.  So, who are you that has not studied any religion, much less Scientology, to sit in judgement.  

My wife, who is not a Scientologist, says about Scientologists: “they seem pretty normal to me".

Scientology organizations have been raided by government agencies around the world.  Canada, France, Spain, Germany, the USA to name a few. These agencies, were always attempting to shut the Church down.  When the charges go to court, the Church wins.  In the decades of raids and attempts to hinder the Church of Scientology, no organizations have been shut down as a result.  Nobody is that good at hiding stuff.  Police organizations have had spies working in various Church of Scientology Organizations around the world, discovering no crimes.  The crimes just aren’t there.  

I know people that would hesitate to criticize a muslim as afraid of being called a ‘-phobe’ of some sort but has no issue getting on the bandwagon against Scientology.  Just because it seems to be the thing to do.  “My friends hate that religion so, as I don’t want to rock the boat, I will as well.”  

Even Kanye West defends Scientology with respect to people just getting on the bandwagon and not thinking for themselves.  I have no idea if he is a fan or not but he at least defends the idea that one should have the right his or her own beliefs!   

I really thought by this time, religious persecution would be a thing of the past.

I know people that believe that it is OK to drive stoned on marijuana and think that I should not educate children on the dangers of pot.  Then they would attack someone for their religious beliefs.  

So, again, if you want to discuss the subject of Scientology, let us first define our terms.  If you are going to call it a cult, then define exactly what you mean by that.  

Similarly, I was having a discussion with someone regarding marijuana.  It wasn’t going anywhere until I realized, that, though I considered marijuana a drug, which, by definition, it is, this person completely disagreed that it was a drug.  As a result, the conversation was doomed. The person refused the definition.  

So, calm down, and get on the same page. 

If you really want to know about the subject, instead of asking the Nazis of the world, go to the source of the subject and find out…:

Scientology Website

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Ry Cooder Music

Ry Cooder Music

Ry Cooder

- one of the most amazing musicians - talents alive today. From pop to blues to country to discovering bands like Buena Vista Social Club out of Cuba... to his collaboration with V. M. Bhatt doing Delta Ganges Blues (Album: A Meeting By the River).  And if you haven't listened to 'Bob Till You Drop' ...

Listen here to one of his finer moments (From the movie: Crossroads)

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Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:
One pound piece of pork tenderloin
A bunch of fresh basil leaves
Baby Spinach (I often use this with the basil)
2-8 tablespoons of hard cheese grated(I use Asiago or Grana Padano - I have them handy for my gnocchi recipe)
2-8 tablespoons of sun-dried tomato paste
(I generally use basil pesto, with a bit of
tomato paste, the Asiago cheese and some
diced apple - about a quarter of an apple
is plenty)pork tenderloin
6 -10 slices of prosciutto ham
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper

Olive paste (I don't use this often)
2/3 cup pitted black olives
2-3 garlic cloves
4 tablespoon olive oil

1. Trim away excess fat(if you want - I have always found that fat increases the taste - so trim after cooked if there is too much)
Slice the pork lengthwise being careful not to go all the way through.
2. Open out the pork and salt and pepper inside
3. Lay a bed of basil leaves inside
4. Mix the sun dried tomato paste and grated cheese together and lay on top of the basil. (The original recipe on this called for a couple of tablespoons of each but this was not nearly enough.  I used quite a bit more and was glad I did.  It really adds to the overall flavours.)
5. Press the pork back together and wrap with the ham.  Start with one over each end and hold those in place with the other pieces.  Don't be shy with the ham.
6. Place in a pan/dish - I used a glass baking dish - seamside down.  Brush with a tablespoon or two of olive oil.  Place in the oven preheated to 375F.  30-40 minutes.
7. For the olive paste: you can blend the olives, garlic and olive oil or finely chop the garlic and olives and just mix in a bowl with the oil.
8. Cut the cooked pork thinly and serve.
9. We served with sliced tomato and avocado sprinkled with salt, pepper, basil and olive oil.
Note: try different stuffings.

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True Friend

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K Spencer Jones – Filmaker

K Spencer Jones – Filmaker

K Spencer Jones – Film Maker

K Spencer Jones

Son Spencer has been making films since he was 12-13 years old.  He has been doing this now in Hollywood for several years now.  Working on real stuff.  I am a proud daddy.  Please have a look and share if you can. (More below the image/link.)

Thanks,
- Martin

Click on the image to go to his website:

K Spencer Jones

 

When Spencer was 12, almost 13 he came to me and said that he didn't want to go to school any more.  I immediately said, 'OK, don't go."  I was quite happy about this.  He was not particularly happy at school and his mum and I both agreed that homeschooling where the child could make more of his or her own decisions about education and life was much more useful than cramming information down their throat.

We enrolled Spencer in a local theatre group, which he loved.  I also gave him an old video camera that we had.  The one with the VHS cassette. He did well in several plays over the next couple of years.  Many of his weekends consisted of filming.  He spent the days of the week calling his friend's moms to arrange dropping off his buddies. Saturday or Sunday would be assigning lighting and actors.  He would shoot each scene from 2-4 different angles and edit till 3-4 AM. Or 5 or 6 AM.  I would happily pay for editing software when needed.

I could go on about how much I have formal schooling, particularly public schools but I think much of the proof is in the pudding.  I know that not everything works for everyone but in this case Spencer thrived with this kind of education.

There are numerous books and websites on the subject.  Here is one that we used often as a base for education:

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The Art of Writing Letters

The Art of Writing Letters

What do you want for Christmas?

or

The Lost Art of Letter Writing…

Recently a close relative phoned me and asked me what I wanted for Christmas.  At first I thought it was going to be tough to answer.  I told them that my wife and I didn’t really need any ‘stuff’.  We don’t - really.  Finally, I told them that whatever she got it couldn’t be more than $20.00.  They laughed and agreed. 

My wife and I agree that just buying something for Christmas because it is Christmas is kind weird.  I know, I was bad enough when the kids were growing up.  And I still buy stuff for my granddaughter, she is just turning 8.  

I do like the sentiment.  This particular relative said that she loves us and wants to acknowledge that.  I get that. 

I read an article recently about Christmas presents and what children remember.  It got me thinking.  What do I remember most about Christmas as child?  Not much actually, because it is a really, really long time ago.  But things that I do remember have a lot more to do with what I was doing and who I was with, than what I received as gift.  

From that I thought, what would I really like from anyone?  Some of my children live a long way away and are not much on Facebook and are generally very busy living and making a living.  They live in a very expensive city.  So, I don’t get a lot of regular news.  What I would really like is news about the more mundane aspects of their lives.  “We went out for coffee and had this and that and the waiter was really nice, complimented me on my child’s manners…”  

And what would be better than a phone call.  A phone call is fleeting.  Once it is over, it is gone.  A letter or a chatty email, I can reread.  It takes a few moments of time and thought.  But it is a physical thing.  Even in the form of an email, I can reread and/or print.  

What I want for Christmas is a newsy letter.  This is for all of my kids, granddkids and friends.  I want to know stupid details.  Tell me how the date bombed.  Tell me how the new recipe that you tried was a disaster.  Good stuff is OK as well.

Tell me how your wife, husband, children, brother, sister did so well at something.  

My mother was a master letter writer.  When my siblings and I were quite young, after we were in bed, she would write letters.  Every evening, that is how she would end her day.   Raised four children, worked two jobs, did volunteer work and wrote letters.  Her letters were newsy.  You knew, after reading one of her letters, how her life was going.  They were a peek, a window, into her life.  

Here is some background on my mother’s letter writing skills.  When she was a teenager in High School in Holland, one of the things that all of the students did was get a Pen Pal somewhere in Europe.  My mother got a young man in Denmark.  They wrote each other all through the second world war and continued to do so for 40 years.  

My mother was divorced and discovered that her Pen Pal was now a widower.  Her mother had passed away so she went to Holland for the funeral. While there, she decided to make the short trip to Denmark to visit this grown man that she had been writing for 40 years or so.  They had never met.  Long story short, within two years they were married and she was on her way to live with him in Denmark.  

He told me an interesting storey a few years into the marriage when they were visiting Canada.  She continued to write letters as she made many friends in her years in Canada.  He told me that she would receive as many as 3-4 letter each day in the mail.  That is personal letters. Each DAY.  

My mother’s letters were so, I don’t know, important?  They compelled you to reply just because they were interesting.  She gave so much of herself you just had to give back.

Here is an excerpt from a letter that she wrote to my family in 1989:

“Thanks for the letter […], it was good to hear from you.  I am shitting outside in the garden writing  to you.  We have had beautiful weather all week, and we hope it will continue, as we are expecting Tina & Geoff […] her on Sunday.  They phoned last Monday to ask, if it was convenient, if the came and of course it is.  So the were going to book it.  Please read […]’s letter.

It is a good thing to have guests sometimes, we have painted and cleaned and washed windows and all the work in the garden!

And tonight we are having 12 people here for a meeting and I had to bake for this.  So, no dull moments here for sure! Is the baby’s name going to be […] for sure?  I will make him one of those embroideries like I did for the others.

We had 300 people here from all kinds of European countries, they all cam to [City].  It had something to do with environment and the future, with hopefully, will have less pollution.  They had a large display in the Town Hall and we talked to some teachers, who came with them, one from Northern Ireland.  

The schools do a lot here too for anti-pollution and you name it.

I hope my new grandchild is doing well and I also help you are fine, [name].

[name], it was the very best news I heard about you getting [name] ready for High School. Give them an education.

[name] got her Bachelor of Science and she is now taking a summer course together with [name] in business administration. 

Please send some baby announcements, also one to [name] though she is in Holland till July 16.  She phoned last night.  And [name] and [Mrs. name].  They are also in Holland. 

I think of you all so often.  See you in 6 weeks. 

The baby will be smiling then!!

lots of love, 

kisses,

Mom”

The first time you write a letter it might take some effort.  The second time, hopefully, somewhat less effort.  But like anything, you will improve and learn how to do it better.  

A few pointers:  

Everyone has bumps in life.  But don’t fill your letters with bad news that the person on the other end cannot do anything about.  As a parent, I know not everything is not always rosy and have no problem hearing about difficulties but use balance.  

Just tell about your life and I promise I’ll be interested.  That is what you know. I want a window into that.

Don’t make it point form. Write sentences. This is not Facebook or Instagram.  As you get better, it is OK to wax poetic.

You can email your letter.  BUT, if you have a printer, then print it and sign and put in an envelope.  Go to the post office once a year and buy 12 letter stamps so that you can write me once a month.  Don’t forget the envelopes.  

Some say handwritten letters are better.  If you see my handwriting, you would change your mind.  For some, this is a great idea.  The aesthetic flow of good Penmanship, if you are capable, is a long sight more desirable.  If you want to do that, spend the money on a good pen and some nice paper.  

This, I believe, will show care about a person much more than a new shirt.  

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