7 Quick Takes -Tedx edition



I was invited to attend TEDx Orange Coast at Segerstrom Center of the Arts.  I could bring a friend, so my best friend, Sky went with me.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.  There are two big 4- day TED conferences each year, and then there are smaller, locally planned, 1 day conferences called TEDx.  TED  brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less). TEDx does the same, but in a local venue, organized by local people. The theme this year was: Redefining Relevance.

The photo above is is Jazz musician Ray Goren who is 12 years old.  Wow.



Our introduction to TED was through Ted Talks online.  Ted Talks are a way to share what TED is, a way to share the world's most inspiring voices.  Sky found TED talks online, and would come home and share them with me and the kids.   I didn't know how it would all work when we got to TEDx, I thought we would move around and pick the talks we were interested in.  Instead, everyone went to the main concert hall and each speaker followed each other with a few breaks in between.  It was like listening to a college professor lecture,  a lecture where the speaker was sharing their biggest passion to you.  It was very easy to listen to, and easy to capture the inspiration.

The sign we are standing next to above was made by Ryan McCann, retired quarterback for the UCLA Bruins.  He makes art using fire. His wooden portrait "Coach" can be seen at the UCLA Hall of Fame.


My favorite speaker was Jack Andraka, a 15-year-old high school student who invented an accurate and inexpensive test for early detection of pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancers.  He began searching for a way to test for pancreatic cancer after loved ones died of the disease.  He decided to find away to test for a certain protein and then had to research through thousands of protein to find a likely candidate.  Next, once he found his protein and researched a way to test for it, he had to convince University professors to lend him a lab.  It all sounded impossible, but he did it.  He had this message for teens on facebook:  "We don't want to see your duck-face photos, instead, you can be changing the world or curing pancreatic cancer."



The lovely ladies/beekeepers from Backyard Bees had a table in the lobby.  They make and sell honey products, rescue/remove/re-home bee hives and manage hives.  Sky has a big interest in keeping bees, but our lovely, golden neighbor is allergic to bees, so we don't have a hive.  Maybe someday. Did I mention that they are local?  One of the ladies lives in my neighborhood.  :)


Other favorite speakers:

*Nigel Nisbet.  A Mathematics teacher from England.  Moving to the U.S. and teaching his first highschool class here was a bit of a negative revelation.  He finally had success with a bar of chocolate...{he had my attention there!}  He moved into challenging his students to think about something they can touch, feel, and smell.  He had such success in the classroom that he became the Mathematics Specialist for LAUSD; instructing other teachers how to teach Math effectively.  From there he moved on to the nonprofit MIND research Institute.  He is working on using a computer game that is fun, engaging, visual and interactive to teach students Math.  The game looked good- I'm hoping for a homeschool version someday :)

He spoke about teaching students effectively, teaching them to think in Math.  The hands-on aspect of his talk spoke to this homeschool mom.  I hunted him down afterwards and tried to put in a pitch for smart, determined homeschool moms everywhere.

*Lara Lee, named a "Master of Innovation" by BusinessWeek...smart, positive woman.  She said "Channel your fear. If you want to change directions, you need to lean into it."  She was referencing riding a motorcycle and how you have to lean into the turns, and how the faster you are going, the more you have to lean...which can be really scary at first.

*Pascal Finette,  he talked about Chaord: Chaos and Organization.  He said to participate in the culture, and not be only a consumer, but a producer.  "It is those who participate that will create change."  He also said, "Let go of something to make room for something."  He said a lot more that I wrote down, but I'll stop now...hopefully soon I will be able to link to their recorded talks.

*Reggie Littlejohn, former high-power attorney who now leads the fight in combating abortion, gendercide and sex trafficking in China. She represents Chinese refugees in their political asylum cases and is President of Women's Rights without Frontiers.  She is actively working to change things for women in China.



Mike Kenyon from Free Wheelchair Mission spoke.  They provide wheelchairs for the disabled poor in the developing world. He spoke about being on a mission trip with his church and realizing that the disabled were totally invisible in poor countries because the could not move about and were often left alone in small, dark homes or even laying out on the streets.  In his talk, he said, to "focus on one need, one issue" and "go out there and make a difference because out there is someone who needs you." I had the chance to talk to a representative of Free Wheelchair Mission and learned about how they make and ship the wheelchairs.  They are really ingenious.  The seats come off, and are like regular backyard plastic chairs, except thicker and stronger.  The rest of the wheelchair comes apart and is shipped in flat boxes.  The wheels are bicycle wheels, better suited to rough/uneven terrain and easy to fix or replace.  There is a bicycle pump on the back and a patch kit for easy repairs.  They also have a second model for children that is more adjustable.  This mission really spoke to my heart because my stepmother has to use a wheelchair most of the time now.  Her wheelchair is electric and very well-made and very much a necessity.  I can't imagine not having access to a good wheelchair like so many of the disabled in poor countries.  I think this is a charity well worth giving to.


All in all, it was an amazing day.  It was one of those experiences where your sleepy brain wakes up and comes to attention.  I haven't felt so challenged and stimulated to go out and be part of the change since I was in college.  As an adult with a full life of family and duties and cares...it's kind of easy to get into a comfortable routine.  I liked how TEDx challenged me to think deeply about things I hadn't really thought a lot about.  I hope we can attend next year.

*7 Quick Takes is hosted every Friday over at Conversion Diary. Click over to join up!

Mom School

I've gone back to school, sort of..I call it "mom-school".
Here is my new study- RosettaStone French. I have been saying for many moons that I would like to study French again, and I have to thank Sky for finally getting me going with it. He studied a little Spanish with RosettaStone, and then decided he was interested in learning French with me.
Somehow, that makes all the difference.

I took 2 years of French in high school, so far the RosettaStone has been a refresher course for me.
for the pronunciation part. Oh boy... I realize now that my French teachers let us get away with consistent, dreadful pronunciation. RosettaStone has brilliant units where you hear a pronounced word and then you have to speak into your headset and repeat it. It is very effective. I am learning quick to listen to the small change in pronoun or consonant ending to figure out a change in verb...instead of the dreadful "ment" we high-schoolers tacked onto the end of the verb. Which, I was surprised to learn...you don't hear in real French. Ahem.

I have to tell you all, the simple word "garcon" is kicking my arse. (pardon my uh, French) Every-time it comes up, I have to try like 15 times before I can say it passable. I am beginning to cringe when I see it come up. It's pretty humbling, since it was one of the first words I learned in high school. I thought about going across the street and asking our neighbor, the real French chef extraordinaire (...look, more French, I am soo talented!) to help me with that one, sorry, horrible word...but then I imagined facing him and trying to say that word correctly over and over for like 20 minutes, and I just couldn't put him or I through that...

All of this to say, that Mother Culture is always important, but I think doubly important when you are a homeschool mom. As teacher to our own children, we are apt to get lost in the job of homeschool mom, forgetting that we need to feed our souls, too. A new language, a new hobby, a challenging book- all are pursuits we should continually cultivate. -If not all, then pick at least one.

"I think it is a definite gain to the whole family when mother is able to take a little time to pursue her own interests,..."I have no time for these simple pleasures," is the mournful cry. Yes, there isn't time for all of them. Think seasonally. One interest per season, coupled with thirty minues of reading a day, may be all that is needed to keep up the Mouther Culture... Billy Graham said, "Mothers should cultivate their souls, that in turn they may cultivate the souls of their children."
-A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola, pg.350