Poop coming in handy

Yes poop. 💩

Here are two ways poop came in handy this year:

In Japan: “Professor Poo bestseller brings scatology-based study to Japan” (from the Guardian). This book is helping kids learn to write kanji characters, and the term うんこ漢字ドリル(Poop Kanji Drills is the name of the book) was one of this year’s Words of the Year in Japan. (“The Japanese words that perfectly sum up how the country felt this year” from Quartz)

Read more about the workbook at Spoon and Tamago.


In the US: turning cow poop into electricity

Read more about this “methane digester” at the Strauss Family Creamery in California.

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A day in the life

The California Sunday Magazine has a whole issue about teenagers this month. Because:

“We wanted to see how they’re living right now in the world adults made for them and how they’re beginning to change it — and maybe get a glimpse of where we’re all headed together.”

Here’s the cover photo:

Stories include:

Life advice from teen experts — how to meet new people, how to get people to care about something, how to say no, how to throw a good dance party (and more)

The two hour commute — see how three teenagers commute, with illustrations

How they do lunch

A conversation about social media and politics

Hanging out

This is a great model for a cross-cultural comparison or a research project about teenagers or university students in Japan: Find people to survey, ask good questions, analyze their answers, add photos and illustrations.

Let’s dance

This story is about a tap dance school in Seattle, created for primarily disadvantaged kids to have an outlet for their energy, to help them build confidence, to give them a group to belong to, and also to call attention to social justice. Here’s their website.

It reminded me of a scene in the movie “White Nights” in which the two main characters — one who comes from ballet and one who comes from tap and jazz dance — collaborate on a dance that mixes both worlds. The movie has lots of other things to talk about: interracial relationships and prejudice, defection, and the Cold War.

First books

Do you remember the first book that had an impact on you? A few that I remember very, very vividly from my childhood, as much for the pictures as the stories. Not suggesting you should buy these, but take a look at the “Look inside”:

Anyway, I thought about this after seeing this video about a non-profit called First Book in a rural part of Iowa, where a “lunch lady” is organizing a book bus to help get books to children during vacations:

Our short winter vacation is coming up soon. What do you plan to read?