Archive for 2021

Childrens Toothpaste

Recently we’ve tried some kids’ toothpaste. I’m surprised at the results!

Tom’s of Maine Children’s Fruitilicious Gel – The previous tubes we bought were great but the latest batch from Amazon has a chemically-bitter taste. I wrote to the company directly and they sent Tom’s of Maine Outrageous Orange Mango and Tom’s of Main Wicked Fresh. They both had the chemically-bitter taste, noted by both Abigail and I. We threw them out :-(

We tried Burt’s Bees for Kids Fruit Fusion Flavor – It has a kinda pasty-gritty mouth-feel, and somewhat chemically-bitter taste. Threw out :-(

We went back to Abigail’s favorite, Orajel Paw Patrol Bubble Berry. It has a moderately sweet, bubble-gum flavor and no chemical-bitter taste! We also tried Orajel Jurassic World Berry Blast. It has a fine flavor but Abigail still went back to the Bubble Berry.

What’s up with the chemical flavors? Here are the ingredients in Tom’s of Maine Children’s Fruitilicious Gel: Sodium Fluoride 0.24%, Water, Hydrated Silica, Glycerin, Sorbitol, Xylitol, Benzyl Alcohol Sodium Laurly Sulfate, Xanthan Gum, Natural Flavor, Carrageenan, Rebaudioside A

I’m guessing stevia, which has a chemical aftertaste, is hidden in the ingredients under “natural flavor”. What do you think?



The Power Of Stories

(I initially wrote this post in June 2021 but it got lost in my Drafts folder. Here it is!)

Zee pointed out a great article about how Inuit parents teach their young. It covers how the Inuit culture handles anger and as a corollary, anger with children. And about how they use stories to discipline in an interesting way:

[on anger and scolding]

The culture views scolding or even speaking to children in an angry voice as inappropriate, says Lisa Ipeelie, a radio producer and mom who grew up with 12 siblings. “When they’re little, it doesn’t help to raise your voice,” she says. “It will just make your own heart rate go up.”

Even if the child hits you or bites you, there’s no raising your voice?

“No,” Ipeelie says with a giggle that seems to emphasize how silly my question is. “With little kids, you often think they’re pushing your buttons, but that’s not what’s going on. They’re upset about something, and you have to figure out what it is.”

[on stories]

… how do you teach kids to stay away from the ocean, where they could easily drown? Instead of yelling, “Don’t go near the water!” Jaw says Inuit parents take a pre-emptive approach and tell kids a special story about what’s inside the water. “It’s the sea monster,” Jaw says, with a giant pouch on its back just for little kids.

“If a child walks too close to the water, the monster will put you in his pouch, drag you down to the ocean and adopt you out to another family,” Jaw says.

“Then we don’t need to yell at a child,” Jaw says, “because she is already getting the message.”

How Inuit Parents Teach Kids To Control Their Anger

I was thinking to myself that the attitudes about anger were good but the story-telling idea wasn’t anything I would ever use. And Zee wrote about how she didn’t think storytelling like that would be so manipulative as to be damaging. I was unconvinced. And then it struck me! I had used exactly those kinds of stories with Abigail yesterday! Let me tell you…

Megan and I were teaching Abigail how to write her lower-case letters and… well, she can be rather strong willed. She had been working in her letter workbook and I suggested that she write the letter “e” the way the book shows and I got this long, heated rant as to how she couldn’t, wouldn’t, and won’t.

I went looking online for a video about making letters to get her started. I found this video about writing “cannon pop” letters (update: that video is gone but here’s another from the series). The instructions they give for making letters are built-in to these crazy, non-sensical songs. For example to draw “q”, the little character, “…q taps two clouds, curls ’round, leaps up, then way down, and tosses her crown!” Well, Abigail ate it up! She watched the whole 5 minute video with rapt attention! And she insisted on watching it again! Later, she was writing her letters in the book and I could hear her reciting the lines from the video! The thing is, she wrote her lower-case “q” better than she had ever done before, all because of stories!

I’m going to make sure to add more story-telling to my teaching repertoire!

Happy Spring! errrr Happy Rainy Season!

It’s springtime… errr… rainy season here in northern California!


I’m so happy we got Mexican Marigold. It blooms in the winter here and… POW! Color!


This is one of 4 beds of wildflowers I planted at our house. I’m thrilled at how the rains have made it explode in the last few weeks. We’ll see if it survives the winter! I’m optimistic!


Another Mexican Marigold. And… see all those little leaves? They are all volunteer Exotic Love Vines! I’m gonna have to transplant them or something since every plant in this pot wants to get to be huge!


Year #2 of Exotic Love Vine volunteers at our neighbor’s house!



The Skirtboot Game

Charlotte and I invented and played this game in San Francisco in 2007-2009. It was great fun!


The rules are simple, if you see a person with one of the attributes on the list, you get a point!

  • Wearing a skirt and boots (the titular “skirtboot”)
  • Holding a Yoga mat
  • Bald gay man
  • Parka and bare knees
  • White person with dreadlocks
  • Guy in a suit riding a skateboard (added by Charlotte’s friend John the chocolate maker 7/09)
  • Moon boots (optional rules, added by Lee 11-1-09)
  • …and…
  • -1 point for your opponent: wearing a hoodie and riding a fixie. It’s worth negative points because no one wants to see that

You can earn a tremendous number points when you see someone with several of the items above. Points awarded are the square of the number of attributes seen on one person. IE: 1, 4, 9, 16, 25

So if you saw a bald gay man wearing a skirtboot and carrying a yoga mat, you’d earn 9 points in one go!!

Hurray for hipster San Francisco!

Todo App: Dynalist

I’ve been looking for a good Todo app to keep all my many projects organized. I think I found one, Dynalist.

Maybe it’s too simple, or maybe it’s beauty is in its simplicity. I’ve been using it for 2 weeks and it’s been a help!

It’s free for the basic version but I’ll pay the $8/month for Google Calendar integration. The referral link above will get you a free month of Pro :-)


I considered several other systems:

  • Google Keep is where I started this journey. Trouble is, it feels like writing notes on Post-its and flinging them down a flight of stairs.
  • I’ve been using a Google Doc to track things for a long while but it’s rather unwieldy!
  • Workflowy is very similar but I liked Dynalist better. The Android and IOS interface is a little better (I can drag things around more reliably) and the Google Calendar integration works well.
  • I tried to get started with but it looked like a bear. It’s a team app, not a solo app.
  • Looked at OneNote but the lack of calendar integration and… I don’t know… “sitting flat” didn’t excite me
  • Evernote might have worked. I tried it a few years ago and it seemed to want to push me into their system instead of adapting to me. Maybe I’ll try again someday.
  • Checkvist might have worked but it seemed to be very (a little too) shiny-new.
  • Obsidian is nice but doesn’t have calendar integration. It feels like it’s more for creating and managing information webs. That’s rather useful but not what I need.

Right now, I’m still getting used to using Markup language instead of… I don’t know what you call it… “enhanced” text? For example: a link looks like [this]( instead of this. And I’m still learning all the keyboard commands;  the graphic interface is very good but I want to use keyboard commands for their speed! It seems like all the commands are there but.. fingers! It reminds me of EMACS a little. Go ahead and try hitting Ctrl-Shift-Backspace multiple times in a row!


Old School Nslookup Humor

For the adventurous among you.

Start nslookup. Set the server to


> set querytype=txt
> set domain=adventure

and then:

> 1

Press enter and follow the interactive adventure!


Zoom Backgrounds for COVID

Here are some pro-vaccination backgrounds for your Zoom meetings.

I work with many families that aren’t vaccinated because… well, I don’t know why. Maybe they’re feeling overwhelmed by the information out there. I want to help make the choice easier for them by speaking the truth.

Grab all of them in one zip file here: COVID Zoom Backgrounds


The COVID vaccine saves lives!

I am vaccinated to protect our families from getting very sick

I’m vaccinated to keep my family, my students, and their families healthy!

I’m vaccinated because it’s not too late to die of COVID-19

In Spanish: The COVID vaccine saves lives!

In Spanish: I am vaccinated to protect our families from getting very sick





And Booster Makes 3

And booster makes 3! Suck it, COVID!

When I go back to work on Monday with all my unvaccinated, unmasked kids, I’ll still be wearing an N95 and using hand sanitizer like a lumberjack uses plaid, but I’ll have one extra layer of protection against what is increasingly being known as the stupid plague. 

Fleet Week

It’s Fleet Week again. I don’t like fleet week. This is pretty much what runs through my mind whenever I hear those jets.


Thanks to JWZ and.. oh dear, I don’t know who made the comic.

Black Star Pirate BBQ

We went to Black Star Pirate BBQ at Point San Pablo Harbor and had a really fun, novel time! It’s in such a curious, otherworld part of the east bay! It’s easy to confuse the 10 minute drive from the Richmond Bridge with a 4 hour drive to the mountains. The BBQ was good, the ambiance completely awesome, and the nearby art a joy! Highly recommended! We sat down to eat at 5, by 5:30 the line to get in was very long! The live music started at about 6 :-)
Note, they’re only open Friday-Sunday!