Thursday, April 26, 2012

I just saw the end of a segment of Charlie Rose on Public Television.  He interviewed Stanford Professor Sebastian Thrun who is  very concerned that only 1% of the world is eligible to get a quality Stanford level of education.  He is concerned about the uneducated masses who cannot afford a $40k per year education, which seems to get discounted by much of our countrymen, well at least the privatized Student Loan companies these days.

 His point is that the system in US as well as Europe is geared toward restraining people from if they don't jump through hoops:  If you get a C you won't get accepted to a good college (unless you have a Presidential father who can grease your way in.) Hmmm, remember Einstein?? 

Thrun proved his point by teaching free courses via pod casts to tens of thousands of people.  Free. No Dollah. He has started something and it may well be the catalyst we need to re-direct our future and give some real tools to the next generations.  A podcast is currently available for free that will teach us to build our own search engines in seven weeks.

Thrun calls sit Udacidy and he's very excited about it. And I frankly am astonished on one hand that it is not thoroughly incorporated into our educational system!

IMAGINE!  I could finish up my 40+ year old dream of getting a degree in physical and cultural anthropology!  For Free.

Just when I was getting frightened about the lack of education available to young people (college tuition has gone up 600% since the 1950s) the miracle of the darned Internet that I often gripe about shines a light.!

BTW:  Stanford has a class that will take a not too computer savvy novice like me, and in seven weeks I will be able to build my own search engine. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Second Beautiful Day

I am doing our genealogy and have had good success, but there are several mysteries still unsolved regarding who and how and why of my ancestral lineage.  I have traced them back to the middle ages.  Imagine me:  I was told by my mother that we were on her side, English, French, German, Portuguese, and that she recalled an event when she was young concerning a chateau in France.  The government contacted the family to see if they would like to pay the back taxes on it and regain title to it.  We didn't.  I personally thought this tale was a lotta hoo-daaa.  Everybody wants to be a princess or a peer with a reference to real estate:  Sir Wanton Necksqueeze, 4th Baron of Sillysocks, and his wife, The Lady Debutante.  

Well, I found the chateau story was possible, but the chateau would have been near Basel, Switzerland which borders France. Later some took residence and employment in Zurich, no doubt a more powerful city to rule from.   My maternal ancestors were deep into religion and government.  Government and religion are very good ways to earn a comfortable living, just like today: get everyone else to pitch in to support you.  

But their issue of mixing up church and state ultimately became the reason for establishing MY County.  When Peter the Goat Herd is passing the coin chest around, one wants to see no special perks for some special members of the congregation.  My people, Puritans, sailed first to England and then on to the colonies.  It was a treacherous, crowded three month trip with an uncertain destination.  Brave people, committed people our ancestors were. 

My mother's side is very difficult. I'm not finding anything for her grandmother.  Even the name was apparently "wrong".  She was referred to only as Little Grandma Ellen .She was about my height 5’5” when everyone else in her family was nearly six feet, and so it continues today: my kids and grand kids passed me up long ago, girls growing nearly 6’ and boys between 6’2” to 6’4”.  Grandma Ellen had a lovely first name: Claircy Ellen!  I found a reference in the Mormon records that her mother also was named Claircy.  What a crisp, clean and enchanting first name.  But....where did she come from?  I cannot seem to break through here:  the family name is Lee and there are umpty-dozen Lees who arrived in California prior to the Gold Rush.