XO Laptop from OLPC is Too Cool for Words

Posted on Wednesday 26 September 2007

I have been reading responses to the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project (Give 1 Get 1) with a combination of amusement, horror, embarrassment and pride. The pride is for the sheer brilliance of the folks at the MIT Media Lab and their courage to look beyond the obvious for creative solutions. It is also for those folks who "get it" or at least try to get it.

The other three are for pretty much everyone else who has commented on the project. The XO is a computer designed to withstand extreme conditions, bright sunlight, water, lack of power, jostling, and, well… Kids.

I know many of us were raised on “Feed the Children” ads. When we think of "developing countries" we can hardly forget children with bloated bellies, no shoes and flies hovering around their faces. Of course, there are children living in those conditions. But there are also children with food, clothes, shoes (where needed!) and even educational access. They may not have a fully balanced diet and their clothes may be second-hand, but their basic needs are being met. If they are going to be able to achieve their own personal dreams, or even to have enough information to create a dream, it’s going to take a bit more than a pair of shoes.

That’s where the PLPC project comes in. If you’re skeptical about the relevance of sending laptops around the world, consider this:

  • There are tens of thousands of books available to read online
  • Writing on a computer conserves vital natural resources and money
  • The Internet provides access to cultures, places, languages, ideas and information we may not otherwise be exposed to.
  • Technology can build bridges between children and their parents (I have seen this first hand).
  • Without the flood of pre-scripted programs, computers are a perfect tool for exploration, creativity and experimentation. For children with limited resources, this is invaluable.

Not only that, but the XO laptops are pretty nifty little machines with built-in video cameras, dual-mode monitors (color LED and hi-contrast Black & white), water proof keyboards, Open Source software and minimal connections for breakage. These little guys are built to last. Oh… they run on less power than most laptops so you can actually power them using a hand crank or a pull cord. Tell me that’s not a bit of genius!

Run out and buy your favorite kids (or favorite gadget-aholic) one of these guys for the holidays. At $400, it’s a steal for you and, more importantly, it could change the life of one child somewhere else. Consider it to be the High-Tech way to "Save the Children."

Christy @ 10:27 pm
Filed under: Me
Putumayo Kids presents Animal Playground "No More Monkeys"

Posted on Saturday 15 September 2007


You know the song about the monkeys jumping on the bed? Well, here it is, Trinidadian-style a la Putumayo. Be forewarned – it’s like crack for kids and they just can’t get enough of it. I find it kind of catchy myself.

The whole Animal Playground CD is phenomenal. Want more? You can buy it (from me!) on my Barefoot Books site.

Christy @ 9:32 pm
Filed under: Me
Change Afoot

Posted on Saturday 15 September 2007

First of all, the Book of the Month club will soon have a new home on GoBarefootBooks.com. Don’t look now. Seriously. Ok, well, I warned you. It’s not quite ready yet!

Not that I’ve spent all that much time or real estate in discussing it, but I’m hoping it frees me up (so to speak) to blog more about my interests. You may not know it, but I just love other mom blogs. I haven’t had a lot of time to read them, what with the baby and everything, but I just feel like there are some kindred spirits out there waiting to be found. Too touchy feeling? Ok, well… Mommy bloggers are cool people. [Am I crazy? Is "bloggers" misspelled? How is it that my blogging application can’t spell bloggers?]

Not only that, but there are lots of fun things out there in Internet land and I want to find them all.

’nuff said.

Christy @ 9:24 pm
Filed under: Me
All Grown Up

Posted on Friday 14 September 2007

Time for something light. Little Guy got his first hair cut this past weekend and also his first real bike. It’s a red Radio Flyer tricycle with a bell and some handlebar tassels. SO CUTE! His face lit up and he yelled, "Big wheels!" I love experiences like this. When the week is going poorly (as most of this week did) and I ask myself why I thought it was a good idea to have children, I do think of those perfect moments when everything is just "as it should be."

Christy @ 3:31 pm
Filed under: Me

Posted on Tuesday 11 September 2007

I wasn’t going to blog about it this year. It’s not a matter of forgetting, or moving on, so much as I don’t want it to seem like this is the only day of the year that I remember. A few things happened today… small things, really… that made me feel like I needed to write something.

I don’t live in NY and never have, although I lived across the river for a number of years. I didn’t lose anyone that day, although I had a few friends who worked in the WTC and I was living/working in Boston at the time. There are a lot of people who have more claim to sorrow, horror, fear.

With that said, NYC is special to me. There are a lot of reasons, some more important than others, but the point is that I have a hard time even thinking about the events of 9-11.  I was talking with a friend today who told me that she was traveling for work on that day and found herself in a part of the country where people felt removed from the attacks. They were upset, angry, and so on, but they weren’t touched in the same way we were. I was surprised. It hadn’t crossed my mind that there were people who didn’t feel personally invested in this tragedy. It makes sense, I guess, because there are plenty of global incidents that upset me, but don’t change who I am as a person. Still, it caught me off guard.

9-11 was a turning point. I think of my life as before and after that day, not in a melodramatic way, but just as reality. Things changed. I changed. Six years later, I am acknowledging those changes, and remembering those who lost lives and loved ones. It may sound like a cliche’ to say I’ll never forget, but it’s true. The events of the day have shaped who I am as a person today.

Christy @ 10:21 pm
Filed under: Me
Bad Parenting Awards

Posted on Tuesday 11 September 2007

Parenting is hard. They tell you that before you have kids, but you don’t really understand what it means until you have a toddler shrieking and throwing blocks at you while your newborn screams bloody murder and you haven’t eaten a proper meal or slept more than a couple of hours at a time in the past 48 hours. Whew.

Because I know how hard it is, and because I have found myself screaming things at my kids I swore I’d never say, I don’t like to throw stones. My house, after all, is made from incredibly brittle glass.

With that caveat, I’m throwing a stone. A really big stone, in fact. I’m giving my first ever “Incredibly Bad Parenting Award” to the parents of the 40 kids (ages 8-15) who participated in the filming of “Kid Nation.” First of all, what would posses you to send your 8-year-old to a place that claims it has “no adult supervision” for 40 days? No amount of money could make that a good idea for me. But it gets worse. Parents signed a waiver releasing the production company from liability if the child is injured, killed, or enters into “an intimate relationship” and that parents “assume any and all risks” including “illness, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and pregnancy.” (see the full contract at The Smoking Gun: No Human Rights In “Kid Nation” – August 23, 2007 ). They also signed away their children’s right to privacy. They even gave the production company the right to portray their child’s life story as they see fit “with such liberties as… necessary… for the purposes of fictionalization, dramatization or any other purposes.”

Come on, people! These are your kids! It’s your job to protect and nurture them, not pimp them out to the highest bidder. I admittedly enjoy reality TV, but I expect that adults can make appropriate life decisions, or suffer the consequences. I think it’s exceptionally bad parenting, and perhaps bordering on child abuse, to put your child in a situation where they have no guidance from a caring adult. Children aren’t supposed to have the wherewithal to think ahead 20 years to their future.

I think the concept is actually quite interesting, but then again, I enjoyed reading Lord of the Flies, as well. Some things are best left in the realm of fiction.

Christy @ 7:51 pm
Filed under: TV andVent
September Book of the Month – Listen, Listen

Posted on Wednesday 5 September 2007

ListenlistencoverAs promised, the Book of the Month club has begun. The book for September 2007 is Listen, Listen by Phillis Gershator, illustrated by Alison Jay. 

Listen, Listen is a stunning journey through the seasons, exploring the sites and sounds of a quiet countryside throughout the year. Alison Jay’s illustrations lend a simple beauty to this tale.

This is just the right book to read along with your toddler or preschooler, who will delight in helping make the sounds of the season (“shhh, shhh” or “buzz, buzz”) and identifying some of the creatures they meet along the way. Early readers will find the simple and rhythmic text fun to read and older kids can use the poetic language as a springboard for writing of their own.

Listen, Listen is recommended for independent readers ages 4–9, or for reading together. The hardcover version is 32pp and retails for $16.99*.  It is eligible for the Book of the Month discount in September, October and November, 2007.

Please contact me through my Barefoot Books website for information on joining the Book of the Month Club. It is free and has no obligation – I just like to keep basic contact information so I can quickly process your orders and for other special treats. Book of the Month readers get 10% off on the featured title (eligible dates for purchase discounts are listed with each book). Special incentives will be revealed shortly for those who participate in the Book of the Month on a regular basis. Purchases must be made with me directly and not through my website. *shipping and tax (where applicable) are extra.

Christy @ 5:35 pm
Filed under: Barefoot Books andBook of the Month