Friday, August 28, 2009

PMS and poetry: Children's poetry archive****


Yes, I know this is a kiddie blog. At least it is a blog where kids can click safely on images. So maybe it is not a good idea to have this video here: it contains Violence.

But on the other hand, it is not the kids who are reading this. I hope.

Ok, here is the compromise. Go watch that video -over at Parallel/Alternate before you read further.

This one, on the other hand, you can safely click on now -

I know, there are tons of related cartoons and videos; I have posted more or less the first couple that I found on google, because it is really late, and I have to get started somehow.

And the reason I wanted to grab and hang on to your attention was actually this - I was reading up something about PMS, and came across some theories about the cause of PMS. PMS, or pre-menstrual syndrome, is a name used to refer to a collection of symptoms including and laying stress on, emotional and mental ones, which occur up to two weeks before the menstrual periods and resolve subsequently. As about 80-90% of women in US (and presumably a similar even if lesser proportion worldwide) report some degree of emotional or physical symptoms pre-menstrually, it is actually more in the nature of a norm rather than deviation. About 3-8%, however, experience a more severe form known as PMDD.

The exact cause of PMS is, as yet, unknown. Each female body is subjected to a cyclical ebb and flow of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, but why some should react differently than others is not known, as is the mechanism for many of these changes. We know some correlations, but not enough yet. We will get there, of course, but in the meantime, there are several other theories - and I am talking of theories which are more or less accepted by psychologists and psychiatrists, not the exotic ideas of your neighbourhood eccentric.

"The psychosocial theory hypothesizes that PMDD or PMS is a conscious manifestation of a woman's unconscious conflict about femininity and motherhood. Psychoanalysts proposed that premenstrual physical changes reminded the woman that she was not pregnant and, therefore, was not fulfilling her traditional feminine role. Obviously, proving this theory through scientific evidence is quite difficult.

The cognitive and social learning theory hypothesizes that the onset of menses is an aversive psychological event for women susceptible to PMDD. Moreover, these women might have had negative and extreme thoughts that further reinforce the aversiveness of premenstrual symptoms. They then develop maladaptive coping strategies, such as lability of mood, absence from school or work, and overeating in an attempt to reduce the immediate stress. The immediate reduction of stress acts as a reinforcement, leading to the regular recurrence of symptoms during the premenstrual period.

The sociocultural theory hypothesizes that PMDD is a manifestation of the conflict between the societal expectation of the dual role of women as both productive workers and child-rearing mothers. PMDD is postulated to be a cultural expression of women's discontent with the traditional role of women in the society."

I have quoted from eMedicine, and that is almost like a pure medical text, so first I must clearly state that this is not really meant for laypersons but for medical professionals. Also, all these are valid and useful approaches, both of looking at psychological diagnoses and of treating them. And finally, one line summaries do not do justice to the whole concept which may be wider and more inclusive than this would lead us to believe.

Nevertheless, I found them funny, in a sad kind of way. Here is why -

As far as I can see, all of these link up the symptoms to something that is happening before: an awareness of the impending menstrual period. That is to say that according to psychoanalysts, the woman is aware - at some level if not consciously - that she is not pregnant; the cognitive and social theorists propose that women are troubled by pre-menstrual symptoms, and cope with the wrong strategies, which becomes learned behaviour after repeated reinforcements; and the socio-cultural theory generalizes this even further as discontent with women's role in society at large, but without explaining the cyclicity of it, presumably just because periods remind them of their being female. To really reduce this to basics, all are implying that a woman knows she is going to get periods, and so she becomes moody, for whatever underlying cause (lets not discuss that at this time).

Obviously all women know they are going to have periods - more or less regularly, but does any woman constantly live with awareness inside? An average woman, not the one who is really looking for conception, or looking to avoid it - but an average woman does not count the number of days left till the next one, does not think about it all the time, does not, in fact, have it on her mind. It happens, you live, what is there to think about? Yet these theorists claim that we all are counting down in our secret hearts all the time. Isn't that slightly ridiculous to assume? Further, pregnancy is always a possibility in a sexually active female, and is not discounted till the periods occur - so why should a woman get upset at not being pregnant in the pre-menstrual time? On the contrary, it should be the onset of periods which should induce depression or anxiety or whatever.

Not meaning any disrespect to psychologists, isn't this way too generalized, far too vague, and rather - conveniently trivialized thinking - to explain everything so? Oh, I grant there is likely an element of truth in them, much the same as in vino veritas. But just as you wouldn't ply wine to get a confession in the court of law, you shouldn't just define PMS so. It disturbs me faintly, this so easy clubbing of PMS into such cliched reasons...

And now, to business.

Over at the Papertigers blog today, I was introduced to this poem by Spike Milligan -

On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all so BOO!
There's a Nong Nang ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang
And you just can't catch 'em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning
Trees go ping
Nong Ning Nang
The mouse go Clang
What a noise place to belong
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!

How can anyone not be moved by this little poem? Call it nonsense verse if you will, but poetry for children does start off with nursery rhymes and limericks and nonsense rhythms before it becomes real, before -

...From their gross Matter she abstracts the forms,
And draws a kind of Quintessence from things,
Which to her proper nature she transforms
To bear them light on her celestial wings.
This doth She when from things particular
She doth abstract the Universal kinds....

So today's featured site is all about poetry - the Children's Poetry Archive.
This cute looking site is based on the premise that it is better to listen to poetry than to simply read it by yourself. Accordingly it features audio files, usually read by the poets themselves. There is some information about each poet as well. Necessarily only those poems are available for which there is an audio file available, but even that is a good enough introduction to poetry for children. Also necessarily, the older poets are not represented, but on the other hand, the new ones, the ones still living, whom even we might not know of, are.

The site also sells audio cd books of poems if you wish to buy more :

The url -

P.S. Incredible stuff you sometimes come across. Viz -

That is an umbrella skirt: a skirt made from an umbrella. Do you really want to wear something so uncomfortable - with spikes and shafts? Looks good, but why not a simple umbrella skirt: you know, the cut? Do follow the link to see the more uncomfortable versions!

Or this, people are paying up for this, in auctions, no less. Limited edition and what not. Piece of wood with a hook - if its done by you and me, it would be dismissed as jugaad, but if it is designer, wow, watch out! And that - seriously - is that a designer baniain, a highbrow version of the humble ganji or what? Isn't this some kind of a joke he is having on us?

(If you look around at his website, you might like the drum disguised as a seat - don't we all know of trunks covered to make diwans, of tins made into stools? Necessity it seems, is not as glamorous as political correctness.)

P.P.S. Indian boyhood by Spike Milligan (he was born in India) -

What happened to the boy I was?
Why did he run away?
And leave me old and thinking, like
There'd been no yesterday?
What happened then?
Was I that boy?
Who laughed and swam in the bund
Is there no going back?
No recompense?
Is there nothing?
No refund?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Rethink time. KneeBouncers*****

I like to believe this is good discipline, this blogging, this groping in dusty recesses for thoughts, this opening long closed synapses for right words, this shaking rusty links to find a logical progression of sentences. That in some way, this will bring me back to life, from what I am to who I am, or can be.

I like to believe that writing daily, or at least regularly, will remind me of work, of the commitment and promise inherent in any job, of what I used to do, and may again, go back to. That it is a beginning of self discipline in my current luxuriously lazy lifestyle.

I liked to believe that once I had started with this light stuff, I would move on to more serious topics, more detailed discussions, a more professional blog.

But is any of it true? Or is it all just a delusional excuse for footling, for wasting time reading other blogs but not really gaining much except a few hours away from my own life?

At any rate, I tell myself, there is a reason for this blog. A hope that someone may stumble upon it someday and find a treasure trove of sites for their infant. Someone who has been looking, like I was, for something fun and useful and perhaps educational. That hope is what is keeping me in the chair today, instead of the floor, dissolved in brine.

And so, let us revisit Kneebouncers. A new and redesigned KneeBouncers with fresh content. KneeBouncers, 'a whole lot of fun for the itty bitty ones'. To date, I haven't found any other site dedicated to the infant and toddlers which is as much fun as this is. Even my preschooler, seeing it after a long time, wants to play, but then, so do I!

The website is the brainchild of Jim Robinson, who, along with friend and flash master Kurt Dommermuth, created this site for their kids then nine month and one year old respectively. When he talks of his quest for websites for young ones, oh, how that resonates in me! The only difference of course is that I know nothing of programming, or the web, save that I can 'enquire within upon everything', and so, can happily bask in other people's works.

At the moment there are thirteen games here, but more are in the offing. All the games are meant for toddlers, that is to say, mouse movement is not required. Any key on the keyboard, or all of them (we know how hard those little fists rain on the keyboard), will lead to fun changes in the game screen such as a character popping up to play peekaboo, or splashing in the water, or playing musical notes.

The site is brightly coloured, and simple in layout. The area of interest is right in the centre, with no scrolling needed to get at it, and the games are just the right size. There is an ad window but that features only the site's own store.

KneeBouncers is totally free of course, but you can also download these games as an embeddable object for your blog or facebook page or whatever for free! Not just one or two, but a whole lot of them! Amazing. Hope you tried a few of them here. I apologize for the amount of space they take up: I had no idea it would be so, but decided to leave them in as a one time post.

They have also recently started a forum which you can join to discuss the site and other things with like minded 'sleep-deprived, spit-up donning and the beaten down' parents!

The urls -
KneeBouncers -
Games page -
The previous review of KneeBouncers (it was my very first post so there is next to nothing there!) -

P.S. Are you using Firefox or the newer version of Internet Explorer which allows tabbing? If so, I invite you, Nino's mum, and everyone else out there, to play a game with me. It is called 'The Web And Me', and we will play it thus -

At this time, just now, as you read this, look at your browser, and just note down the names and urls of the websites you are simultaneously browsing at this very moment in time.

Now post it in your next blog post, and if you please, do tell about what you were looking at, and if there was something you liked or disliked - tell us anything you want!

Let me know so I can link up to your post.

Invite your friends to play, with the proviso that they let me know too, so I can keep on linking. Let us see how far we will go in the next six months or so, how many websites we will get to know about!

Lets play! Here is my effort -

1. Blogger: Hello, Net Baby! - Create Post
2. KneeBouncers the game page, for the last screenshot I had taken -
3. Hello, Net Baby! - search for kneebouncers (to look for my previous post) -
4. Read for change - a website I reached through the KneeBouncers forum, open for later exploration -
5. Thinkfinity featured resources - another link followed from the above site, for later exploration -
6. Reading is fundamental site for pre-schoolers - to be checked at a later time, once again (I leave a lot of tabs open even when I am ready to leave the computer!) -
7. The Nino Effect - for linking and commenting :) -

Your turn!

P.P.S. If you have survived with the music this long, tussi great ho! I have written to the KneeBouncer people to find if I can turn it off in any way: will effect changes as soon as I know how to.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A teaser, a trailer, a tormentor

Take a look at these -

A torment for me - all these sites to be covered, and I haven't done it yet?

A trailer for you - of the goodies to come.

A teaser for you as well - if you can guess which sites these images are caught from.

A hint: these are all our beloved sites, to be revisited, in view of new content, or previously inadequate coverage.

Any guesses?

Lost ideas and Cartoonito***

Today as I was trying to remember the extraordinarily brilliant idea for this post I had last night, I was reminded an old wish of mine, for a book in which one could get all answers. All of us, have at one stage or another, for one reason or the other, wished for a guidebook to life, a companion handbook, a phrase book or a dictionary, a template - something to help us through life when things get in a bit of a muddle. How much comforting to have a map to tell us the right way! A how-to guide to assembling your life! In 1856, Houlston and sons published a book entitled "Enquire within upon everything", which proved to be such a success that 113 editions were published by 1923. (Source - wikipedia, and some googling for old books). How could it not be, with such a foreword by the editor Robert Kemp Philps as this -

"Whether you wish to model a flower in wax;
to study the rules of etiquette;
to serve a relish for breakfast or supper;
to plan a dinner for a large party or a small one;
to cure a heache;
to make a will;
to get married;
to bury a relative;
whatever you may wish to do, make or to enjoy, provideed your desire has relation to the necessities of domestic life, I hope you will not fail to 'enquire within.'

Ever since I read about this book in one of Miss Marple's dialogues (the book referred to as belonging to her mother), I have been fascinated by it. Not perhaps the real book, which I expect would be of little use to me in our world, but the idea of the book, the title of it. Imagine a book where you could get to know everything you ever needed to, or wanted to! All books in the world are but components of this GREAT book, THE BOOK, in fact, which would hold all the information that was ever there... And you could just open it, and ask, and the answer would be there... So romantic, this notion, so beguiling! I wished it were possible, that I could have a whole library at my fingertips, always... Of course, the lure was in the books, not just in the information, but still!

The only other book from fiction, which has interested me so much, has been the hitchiker's guide to the galaxy, with the words 'DON'T PANIC' written on it, in big capital letters. Whether or not the guide contained useful information became irrelevant in face of the comforting preface such as this! With the net at my fingertips, at least my wish for an 'everything' book has been granted in a fashion. Now if only someone would make me a book which will comfort me when I can't remember post ideas!

Cartoonito is a pre-school dedicated tv channel developed by Cartoon Network for the UK. They claim to have 'followed the example of the learning through play framework to create free, fun and educational games for your child. The Early Years Foundation Stage is set up by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCFS) and used in nurseries and play groups. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is made up of six areas of Learning and Development...' These are -

'1. Personal, Social and Emotional Development
2. Communication, Language and Literacy
3. Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy
4. Knowledge and Understanding of the World
5. Physical Development

6. Creative Development

I will not take up issue regarding how Scooby-Doo the pup can teach problem solving skills or increase understanding of the world - but I will say that some of the programs are promising, and presumably, useful. At any rate, I would prefer to have a milder version of Scooby Doo than the full blown (and to my mind silly) one on Cartoon Network! However, our focus at home, and here on this blog, is different. Let us explore the site for some online fun for the little ones.

The presentation is cute, which I am a sucker for! See those shapes - they each have names and personalities, and I am told they introduce the shows on the channel. Not having a tv at our home, we have no connect with them save their presence on this page, and the links they lead to. Bobble, for instance, will list the games -

The Adventure valley from Land before time is a well designed game which actually consists of five separate ones - click on each of the characters in the main menu to make a choice. Starting anticlockwise, these are Sharptooth sneak, Cavern slide, Boulder bash, Rock hop, and Running Wild. All games have three levels, with a gentle no fuss easing of one into another. Cavern slide is about side to side mouse movement, as is Running wild, the difference being the context. Boulder bash needs single clicks of the mouse on moving targets (note that unlike most games, the pointer will not change into a hand to indicate area to be clicked), and Rock hop requires varying amounts of click and hold to allow Littlefoot the dino to cross a broken bridge. Sharptooth sneak is the most innovative one, featuring Petrie hiding from a giant dino in a rock cavern. Click and hold the mouse to move him from column to column, so that he continues to avoid the vigilance of Redclaw. If you release the mouse while he is moving, he will scamper back to the previous column. There is no scurrying back if he has reached the next though. When spotted, Redclaw will only roar, but that roar brings little hands to ears!

Krypto the dog features in a X-ray fetch game involving finding hidden objects in a museum within a limited time, using his special ah, faculties. It was a promising idea, had there been some kind of correlation between the shape required and the shape hiding it - something to challenge a little mind. Think of the art pieces that could have been included, the mini lessons given! Instead, there is no need even to look at the shapes required. All you have to do is to go on clicking at everything that can be clicked, and the 'finds' will be collected for you. Disappointing.

The painting games are lovely, allowing for full screen and printing, and with the reset option though not 'undo', with the cutest proviso of splattering the background with colours by banging on the keyboard. Can you imagine how much fun that is? Sometimes the foreground hardly gets coloured! A little drawback, at least on our machine, seems to be that the splatter doesn't work in full screen mode. Also a pity that each image is labeled as a separate game whereas in reality it is the same game with different images.

Sam the firefighter features in a couple of games in which Norman is in trouble, like lighting a fire or landing in a tree, from which Sam and Dilys rescue them. The format is of a storybook, with words highlighted as they are read but both the speed of reading and the words used are not suitable for pre-schoolers. The story ends with a question regarding the means of rescue: ladder vs rope, hose vs bucket, followed by gentle moralizing. Rather damp; it wasn't requested ever again at our place, but may be useful for the very tiny ones. The full screen option with simple graphics, and the choice of turning sound off so you can read yourself, is helpful there.

The counting game is useful for small children too. The graphics are neat, there is sound and animation when you hover on the animals, and the pace easy. A good one! I would love to see more along this line, perhaps including word building as well. There are also a few other games - memory games, body matching games and one jigsaw.

Clicking on the activities link will lead you to a short selection of nursery rhyme videos, some colouring sheets, and some other activities like dot to dot and differences. There are also four masks to print out. Create a picture will insert your uploaded picture in a frame incorporating the cartoonitos. Nothing elaborate but sufficient.

The videos are more numerous, but short, too short in duration! There are karaoke ones too, if you have a budding genius :) The french section I gave a miss altogether, being wholly unacquainted with that language, so would love to hear your take if you go through it.

There are ads of course, but only related to the channel itself. All in all, worth a bookmark for occasional play.
The urls -

Cartoonito -
Games -
Adventure valley -
Easter painting -
Animal counting game -

P.S. If you are interested, here is the link for downloading the guidelines suggested by the channel for skills which are a must before starting school -

P.P.S. You can read the 89th edition, circa 1894, of 'Enquire within upon Everything' on Gutenberg, or the 1865 one in Google, and doubtless a few more here and there. If you have a little time, do go and check it out, for a few smiles, a few useful tips, and for homage to the people who have made our life as easy as it is now with the net!

P.P.P.S. When you are quite finished reading, do check this last page out! If you google, you'll find many versions of this, but the first look is always the best one! Doesn't it remind you of the restaurant at the end of the universe?