Today Seattle exposed it's whips, leather, penises, stilts, breasts, and rainbows on 4th street. It was quite a sight. I had to share my photos with you all. They were fabulous. I had so much fun playing with color, vibrancy, clarity, and exposure of my photos.

Speaking of exposure, there are some photos that contain nudity. I warned you.


Riddle, explained

There's a boy who comes to the Y everyday for several hours. He should be in seventh grade but was expelled. He's a nice enough kid: he plays chess, Scrabble, or speed with the staff when we're not busy, tries magic tricks, goes swimming, plays basketball, is completely bored after that.

I can almost hear him falling behind in school. Missing more material each day he isn't in class. Dropping behind in math, reading level, overall comprehension, motivation, hope of getting back on track.

I ask him why he doesn't bring a book to read for the hours that he has nothing to do. He says he doesn't read, apart from "How To" Origami books. If I brought in Hunger Games, I ask, would he at least read the first chapter? No.

He tells me that his mom writes him problems to figure out. If I write him a problem he would work on that. I wrote him the riddle that I posted here earlier.

My rule with riddles, which I inherited from my Dad, is that I will not tell anyone the answer. I will answer "yes" or "no" questions, I will give hints, but merely explaining a riddle takes away all of the joy to be found in it. (The joy of that "Ah ha!" moment. Joy, regardless of how many hints you've been given, of figuring out some part of it, of making the last intellectual leap.)

To a failing seventh-grader, I probably should have given a simple story problem.

The Teen Director came over to where the boy was working. Both were stumped by the riddle. TD took it back to the Youth Investment Staff, two men in their thirties, to try to work it out with them. One kept exclaiming that TD was "a four-point-oh college graduate" and should figure out the riddle, if the riddle were possible to figure out.

I told Mr. TD that it was the second in line who could figure it out. I asked him to think of what combination of hats could work for the riddle. I drew him a thought bubble of what the second could be thinking. (Sometimes it's hard to give hints without making the riddle more confusing.) I asked TD if the riddle was difficult or not. He realized the answer suddenly and told the other two. ("See, I told you, four-point-oh.")

The riddle itself is not that difficult; it just challenges our brains in a way we're not used to. I realized this when Mitch and I ate pizzas that night, and he was talking about teaching empathy. He taught a unit on AIDS that he said wasn't really to teach kids about medicine or health or to scare kids about sex. He said it was to challenge his students to see life from another's point of view. See concerns that are entirely not their own.

Because the trick of the riddle, the reason the second figure can know what color hat he has on his head, is that he both uses the information that he's given -- his experience, the hat that he sees in front of him -- and he thinks of what the person behind him must also see. He thinks from another point of view.

We, as humans, are terrible at this. From a survival, procreation standpoint, there is very little to be gained from empathy. But if it came more naturally, think of the footing that racism, sexism, classism, violence would lose.

And isn't that the point of reading fiction? Our good authors hold our hands, construct realities one detail at a time -- with clocks and food and dusty beds and list slippers -- to take us into the world of someone else. To make it a bit easier, for us, to see outside ourselves.



On the last day of school I asked a few students questions about reading. Then I asked them to express how they feel about reading with one facial expression. This is what I've discovered.

College bound: yes
Did your parents go to college?: no
Dream job: chef or engineer

Do you like to read?

What is your favorite book?
Calvin and Hobbes

Why do you think kids don’t like to read?
It’s boring. It takes a long time.

How could teachers make reading more enjoyable?
Have kids read the books that they are interested in.

Why is it important to read?
It is helpful to become smarter. Know difficult concepts, know more words.

College bound: yes
Did your parents go to college?: mom yes dad no.
Dream job: I don’t know! To be on broadway

Do you like to read?
Yes I do!

What is your favorite book?
Princess Bride

Why do you think kids don’t like to read?
Because they think they could be doing something better and that its boring.

How do you think teachers could make reading more enjoyable
Find books that are more relatable. Topics regarding family life, social, problems, relationships.

Why is it important to read?
It is important to read because it’s good for you. And you won’t go brain dead over the summer.

College bound: yes
Parents: mom yes, dad I don’t know
Dream job: to become the president

Do you like to read: yes

Fave book: the book, Nevermind. About a sisters side and brothers side. They are twins who go to the same school.

Why do you think kids don’t like to read?
Because there are a lot of words, and the book gets boring.

What could teachers do to make reading more accessible?
Make it more fun. Cliff hangers, more suspenseful etc.

Important to read: yes. Because you can learn so you can get a good job. To learn to become smarter.

College bound: no
Parents: dad did, mom didn’t. Mom dropped out because she got pregnant.
Dream job: to be a teacher or an actor

Do you like to read: no.
Fave book: the tale of despereaux

Why do you think kids don’t like to read: some of the books adults read look boring and long.
How could teachers make reading more interesting? : book reports should be interesting. The book should be…. Kids should be able to pick the book. We just read along with a voice recording and it was really boring… I have no idea.


Do you want to go to college? : no
Did your parents go to college? : yeah
Dream job: I don’t know
Do you like to read: no
Fave book: yeah. The cat in the hat

Why do you think kids don’t like to read:
They make stupid books for stupid reasons

Is reading ever important: no.

College: yes
Parents: yes
Dream job: fashion designer

Do you like to read: yes
Fave book: the magic tree house series
Why do you think kids don’t like to read: I don’t really think that. I don’t know.
Teachers: umm… I guess like in a challenge sort of book teachers can like… you know I don’t really know.
Important: sometimes. It would actually like in your other classes you can like for example if you found an article and you don’t know how to read you won’t be able to understand.

College bound: yes
Did your parents go to college? : no
Dream job: something in marketing

Do you like to read: depends on the book or article
Fave book: harry potter 7
Why do you think don’t like to read: time consuming. It isn’t instantly rewarding.
How could teachers make reading more enjoyable or accessible?: I don’t think a book needs to be attractive. It is what it is.
Important: yes. Reading adds to knowledge and today we are losing our… ehh, I’m not sure how to say it. We are losing our ability to say things. We text all the time and it is changing our culture because we don’t read. It is making things easier and people more lazy.
Why is it important for people to be educated?
Everyone would be the same.