All at Sea

For an “All at Sea” murder mystery game last night, our house became a ship at sea in 1914, filled with more than 25 role-playing guests.

All at Sea
Hannah did it!

All at Sea

All at Sea

All at Sea

All at Sea

All at Sea
Candace played the host

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Sleet and thundersnow

This morning we’ve enjoyed the sleet and thundersnow. Area schools have already been canceled for tomorrow; we’re still waiting for word from OU. Meanwhile, we recall the following video:

Susanna in the snow
Susanna in the snow

Susanna, Hannah and Rebekah in the snow

Sleet waterfall
Sleet waterfall

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Happy Valentine’s!

Robert Sabuta, Saint ValentineOne of our favorite Valentine’s Day traditions, ever since 1993, is to read this beautifully illustrated story of Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda. The origins of Valentine’s Day are murky, and there are many persons named Valentinus we might choose to remember, including an important gnostic theologian. Sabuda follows the hagiographic tradition of another Valentinus, an Italian bishop through whom a blind girl was healed. Our family’s annual reacquaintance with this story, as our daughters have grown up reading this beautiful illustrated storybook each year, has surely added greater meaning for us in appreciating this day.

As Joe Tkach says in the video above, “Enjoy the holiday with those closest to you by doing something special, but more importantly reassure them of your love daily.”

Just as an aside, chocolate is a much better way to reassure your valentine than sending some e-cards.

Remember, beans are vegetables. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans. It’s always good to eat your veggies, particularly on Valentine’s day!


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Thanksgiving Song

At our Christmas feast, December 25, 2013, we were gathered with family from near and far in my parents’ home in northeast Missouri. Candace, Rachel, Hannah and Susanna worked up this arrangement of the “Thanksgiving Song,” by Mary Chapin Carpenter, which represented our feelings perfectly.

The song is from one of my favorite Christmas albums, Come Darkness, Come Light . Below are the lyrics (as sung above, with two lines revised). SSA arrangement from


Thanksgiving Song

Mary Chapin Carpenter

Grateful for each hand we hold

Gathered round this table.

From far and near we travel home,

Blessed that we are able.

Grateful for this sheltered place

With light in every window,

Saying welcome, welcome, share this feast

Come in away from sorrow.

Father, mother, daughter, son,

Neighbor, friend and friendless;

All together everyone, in the gift of loving-kindness.

Grateful for what’s understood,

And all that is forgiven;
life together, grace so good,
love that keeps on giving.

Father, mother, daughter, son,

Neighbor, friend, and friendless;

All together everyone, let grateful days be endless.

Grateful for each hand we hold

Gathered round this table.

Mary Chapin Carpenter - Come Darkness, Come Light

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Happy birthday, Mac!

(cross-posted from

Today is the 30th anniversary of the unveiling of Macintosh, the first computer to be marketed to a wide public with a mouse and windows-based user interface. All of our computers today are its heirs.

1984 Mac
To celebrate, stop by the History of Science Collections and view an early, low-serial number 1984 Macintosh, donated by Tim Long, on display in the Roller Reading Room. The Collections also holds a late-1984 Macintosh donated by Kennard and Kay Bork; these are part of a computer collection consisting of approximately 40 working computers from the 1970′s through the 1990′s.

Steve Jobs, Rosetta Stone
One of my favorite portraits of Steve Jobs, taken by Tom Zimberoff, hangs above an easy chair in the Researcher Lounge of the History of Science Collections. Jobs saw that the Mac would do for computers what alphabetic writing did for ancient civilization. The Rosetta Stone displays the same text in three bands of writing, beginning with Egyptian hieroglyphics and the more-easily read demotic script. Both hieroglyphics and demotic, like Mesopotamian cuneiform languages, were written in syllabaries comprised of several hundred characters. Syllabaries were the scripts of highly trained scribes, mastered only through a long period of preparation. As a result, scribes were an elite culture, and their work was subject to the control of large, highly-organized states in Egypt and Mesopotamia. In contrast, the lowest band is Greek, an alphabetic script. With only a couple dozen characters, Greek could be mastered with determination by anyone. The resulting impact of Greek culture upon the world, made possible by literacy, signified to Jobs what the Mac and the 20th-century Information Revolution were all about.

Research Lounge

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On Monday morning Janux, OU’s new digital course platform, launches with the following courses, all of which offer free public enrollment:

  • Native Peoples of Oklahoma
  • Practical Importance of Human Evolution
  • Chemistry of Beer
  • Understanding and Detecting Deception
  • Power and Elegance of Computational Thinking
  • Introduction to Computer Programming
  • Administration of Adult and Higher Education
  • Introduction to Water
  • Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources
  • Physical Geology for Science and Engineering Majors
  • History of Science to the Age of Newton
  • Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
  • Introduction to Sociology

Go on over to the site and take a look. Sign up for any that interest you. On Monday morning, join thousands of other people around the world who will interact together as they explore these courses.

The Janux platform offers numerous features tailored to promote engaging learning opportunities, including text annotations, student interaction through forum discussions, and high-impact videos including interviews and on-location documentaries. Courses range the gamut across the sciences and humanities, offering anyone around the world access, without charge, to the intellectual resources of the University of Oklahoma.

These courses will interest motivated homeschool high school students. At least two, the Power and Elegance of Computational Thinking, and the History of Science to the Age of Newton, are taught by homeschooling parents! Feel free to forward this information to any homeschoolers you know who might be interested.

One reason my blogging has lagged in recent months is because the Janux platform will include my own course, History of Science to the Age of Newton. But the truth is that this course no longer seems really my own: it has been produced by a team of remarkable people with whom I have been privileged to work, whose skill and graciousness have inspired me. My debts to them are total: Angie Calton, course design assistant; Grey Allman and the other programmers, who have slaved away many late nights to implement new platform features to support high-quality online pedagogy; and Chris Kalinsky, Meleah Meadows, Pat and the rest of the videography team, who are artists of light and shadow and have invested extended hours in filming the books, the treasures from the vault, on location in the History of Science Collections. Without their insight, initiative, skill, dogged labors, teamwork, collegiality and perseverance, my course would not be included in that list.

The launch of Janux is an exciting time for OU and for all of those involved. My hat is off to everyone who made it possible, and now the countdown to Monday morning begins…

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Technology and the holidays, understood

Apple’s new “misunderstood” ad is beautiful. If you catch yourself wondering why the teenager is preoccupying himself with his iPhone instead of building deeper relationships with family, then just wait for the ending:

Here’s the video featured in the ad:

Here’s how to do it yourself. Here’s one of ours, and another.

Update: A great take on the ad.

Update: The Apple ad is #1, but in great company, on this list of the 7 best Christmas ads. Enjoy!

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