The View From 32


SEPTEMBER 22, 2007  More below: POKEMON

Manual labor

Peach tree being prunedFor a city boy this was a busy day. I was given the responsibility of pruning the old peach tree that had grown wild, its branches getting so long that many broke under the weight of this year's peaches. Here you see it about three quarters of the way through the process.

I thought I'd tackle it like a man, using the old bow saw that was in the garage. After trimming a few small limbs I realized that the big branches were beyond our ability.

Quickly I moved the Plan B, Ken's Sawzall. If the name doesn't mean anything to you, a Sawzall is the remodeler's all-purpose tool of choice. Depending on the blade you use, it will rip through anything from metal pipes to peach trees.

About an hour later the tree looked like it had lost a battle with a Sawzall, but I think it's in better shape for next season. I cut off the broken limbs, many dead branches, the multiples that crossed over each other, and trimmed back the long ones that would surely break next year.

We're keeping our fingers crossed for next year.

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Learning from Pikachu

Typical pages from the Pokemon Handbook

If you haven't been an observer/participant in some young boy or girl's fascination with the Pokemon characters, you're missing a youth culture phenomenon as impressive as Harry Potter but with a younger audience.

My four-year-old grandson spent a good part of the morning and some of the evening trying to bring me up to speed on the many, many characters, their names, what they evolve to, and their powers.

There's far more complexity in the Pokemom world than anything I can remember from when I was a kid. The most information we remembered were the batting averages of our favorite players in our baseball card collections. And I didn't do much of that anyway.

Most of my lessons today came from repeated reading of the Pokemon Sinnoh Handbook, an encyclopedia-like collection of character descriptions. Favorite parts we read several times. This is yet another demonstration of how children love to learn when it's something they care about. Too bad we haven't figured out how to make school work with this ability rather than deaden it with boredom.

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