Alexander, ‘The Philosopher Scientist’, takes a turn.

(We’ve been mostly off the grid for a bit.)

The Mt.Batur Volcano sunrise hike.

About a week or so ago, we decided to take an early morning guided hike up a Balinese volcano at 2:30 a.m. The spry young bucks took on two dinosaurs, Dad and Professor Art.

After passing a 3:00 a.m. cremation ceremony*, we trekked from sea level to over 1750m in a couple hours. For most of you, nothing. But for these old dinosaurs, it was a  wake-up call.  Enjoy Allie’s humorous writing, and narration. The kid spins a fine tale.

*more on cremation in another blog post

It’s the peaceful, silly.

A quick escape.  There’s a  serene and peaceful  je ne sais quoi about the Balinese way of life, that when combined with slow or even no-WiFi access, makes one happy. Heck, could it be the inability to see events going on elsewhere? Perhaps. Whatever the reason, we are grateful to be without. Enjoy a morning Hindu song, broadcast from seemingly everywhere, wafting on the smoke in the burning fields. [The two volcanos in the background are a story for another day. Uploads are often very slow, and that’s okay. The backlog is building] I hope this makes your day… calmer.

American Idiot: The Journey Begins (in fun)

Let me be clear. THE  VIDEO THAT FOLLOWS IS MEANT TO BE HUMOROUS AND FUN. Period. Unfortunately, in today’s climate, it requires a brief preface.

As most of you know, I detest hypocrisy nearly as much as I detest the main stream media of all colors and stripes whose sole task it seems  is to create distraction and discord among it’s fellow citizens to a point that it destroys the very fabric of our nation. And for what, to sell papers? To generate more clicks? “Brand America” be damned, right?

Nicholas and I  discussed the tone and angst and messaging of “American Idiot” by Green Day, which  captures so much of the current madness we observe. Personally, I find myself humming it often, as if it was written last week. I sometimes feel alien to, and in, the land I love. And the questions one gets all over the world like,  “what the heck is going on over there?”, makes it clear that “Brand America” is under assault.

Make no mistake, America has given us fantastic opportunities whose rightful credit accrues to our immigrant Great Grandparents, Grandparents and Parents who toiled, saved and in some cases died for our good fortune. Be they forefathers who died in WWII, or died in a coal mine, under the shadow of dirty unsafe working conditions, we owe everything to America, and those who came before us. And to you Dear Reader, as I strive always to find a pony under a pile of poo, this too shall pass. America will thrive. She has faced far greater foes than the internal strife from our unhealed internal wounds. In the mean time, let’s try not to kill the goose which has been so good to so many all over the world.

Thus, the use of American Idiot here is a subliminal a call not to arms, but a call for the use of brains, and hearts, and goodness. It in no way shades thoughtful citizens anywhere. Moreover, this song selection is in no way meant to point fingers at anyone or anything in a manner as to convey high minded elitism. THE SONGS MESSAGE IS SERIOUS, THE VIDEO IS NOT!  We hope you enjoy watching, as much as Nicholas enjoyed making it.

American Idiot, Green Day, 

Don’t wanna be an American idiot…Don’t want a nation under the new mania…And can you hear the sound of hysteria?…The subliminal mind-f$ck America…Welcome to a new kind of tension, All across the alien nation
Where everything isn’t meant to be okay…Well, maybe I’m the fa$$ot America, I’m not a part of a redneck agenda…Now everybody do the propaganda…And sing along to the age of paranoia
Welcome to a new kind of tension…All across the alien nation…

Ding, Ding. School is in session. Arthur has sent your first assignment.

Kids, your new teacher, Arthur has sent your first assignment.   “In a brief video, no more than 3 minutes each, tell me about yourself and show me who you are.”

Teacher feedback:

“Annika’s vocabulary and comprehension are off the charts. She will be (is?) a force to be reckoned with.

Alexander: introspective and humble. Perhaps the Philosopher-Scientist.
Nicholas: favorite comment: American kids are more American. When I was in Europe it was so easy to pick out the Americans.
I do play video games: Simcity, Civilization, Pokemon Go (caught 230), Battlefront.
Most important thing to convey about school next year: each child will have a significant voice in what they will be learning. If Alexander wants to learn more astronomy then that’s what we’ll do. If Nicholas wants to learn more technology then that’s what we’ll do.
The video was amazing. You were correct when you felt that your kids felt comfortable in front of a camera.
Two weeks!”

The Vesuvius ExperiMentos: A Trial Run at Silly Video Making


In the spirit of beta testing the idea of making a fun video, the creatures spent a day researching the science behind the famous Mentos experiment. While learning about new subject matter, they didn’t realize they were developing their writing, public speaking skills, and general confidence through the history of the Vesuvius volcanic explosion, and the concept of making life learning fun. (A first attempt).


Where does it come from? Where will it go?

One day it’s just Legos.   The next day it’s Minecraft.   Then one day they say, “look what I built!”

And you watch those fidgety hands in the video. The ones about which teachers in France say, “he can’t sit still”. The ones which can drive parents crazy at the dinner table, like say in Sydney, when that fidgeting nearly killed a guy (a story for another days post).

I once said in passing, “i’ll spend as much money as you like on two things…books and technology”. And then comes the request. “I know I’m 12, but I want to build my own machine. I’ve done the research and figured out the configuration, and… and… can I…?

Off they go. Like getting on the school bus for the first day each September. A mixture of pride and sadness, as each step forward is a step further away. Or is it?

Perhaps a step closer. With Mom, straight from the techno-brain of her dad, a nerd at heart. The perfect combination of brains and beauty, there to support, maintain calm and to encourage.

After much dutiful research, patience, and perseverance. Weeks to study, days to build.



et VOILA! 



“It’s ALIVE!”

This machine has now been constructed and deconstructed so many times I worry about slot leakage and loose contacts. But in the end, the blurt, “I would do this 24/7 if I could”, made the experience priceless.

And then you realize that that lovable geek, that proper nerd, is our geek. Our nerd.  And you think about the Dr. Seuss book you read to the kids as babies…(thank you, Butch)

“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

Oh, The Places You’ll Go — Dr. Suess

And you realize, he’s not ours at all, he’s simply on loan. He’s really all his own.

And that makes all the difference.

Much respect to Nicholas “Clickolas” Balog. 2017.