Monthly Archives: October 2013

Are you smarter than a 5th grader? Augmenting a writer’s reality.

by Heather Harris Brady

This year both of my children received school-issued ipads for the first time. Last night my sophomore son sat on the couch with his, combining atoms to make table salt, while my fifth-grade daughter logged into her Google drive account to finish a writing assignment. We all know writing’s a tough business. Most of us hold down at least one other job, and raise a family besides, so keeping up with technology seems like just another thing to keep us away from writing. However, I would argue that if we push it aside for “later” we’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. Plus, we are deliberating removing ourselves from the real-world experiences of kids today.

My next few posts are going to focus on the technology showing up in classrooms today, and how it might work with a writer’s lifestyle. Can you find the technology hidden in this blog? You can if you have the free Layar app! (Apple, Android)

Happy Allegiant Day! (October 22)


by Heather Harris Brady

I know, what am I – 14? My son put down Divergent at the beach to take a swim, I picked it up, and the rest is history. I’m only a little ashamed to say that I had Insurgent shipped to my workplace so I could get my hands on it before he did. Tomorrow has been circled on our calendar for a long, long time!

I have carefully strategized my Tuesday around several large blocks of reading time. Nonetheless, I am fighting the urge to stay up until midnight to download it. . .because it’s fun to think about taunting him at breakfast. . .

Happy Allegiant Day Roth fans!

Bicycling: Wheels For Women’s Independence

Mrs_ F_ M_ Cossitt, first woman to ride a bicycle in New York_ 1888

Mrs. F.M. Cossitt, the first woman to ride a bicycle in New York – 1888 (Photo from Simply Grove blog)

by Heather Harris Brady

Dateline October 20 1895: The most extraordinary journey ever undertaken by a woman

In the late 1800’s two forces developed simultaneously, bicycle engineering and the women’s suffrage movement.

I began to feel that myself plus the bicycle equaled myself plus the world, upon whose spinning-wheel we must all learn to ride, or fall into the sluiceways of oblivion and despair.” – Frances Willard

Frances Willard, founding member of the WCTU, took up the sport at the age of 53 in Evanston IL. But it caught the fancy of young women as well.

On June 25, 1894, Latvian immigrant Annie Cohen Kopchovsky, a young mother of three small children, stood before a crowd of 500 friends, family, suffragists and curious onlookers at the Massachusetts State House. Then, declaring she would circle the world, she climbed onto a 42-pound Columbia bicycle and took off. Fifteen months later (October 20 1895) one New York newspaper called it “the most extraordinary journey ever undertaken by a woman.” See her route here. (Source)

The trip was reportedly set in motion by a wager that required Annie not only to circle the earth by bicycle in 15 months, but to earn $5,000 en route, as well. This was no mere test of a woman’s physical endurance and mental fortitude; it was a test of a woman’s ability to fend for herself in the world. While Annie died in obscurity, a documentary about her extraordinary stroke debuted in April 2013. During her trip she adopted clothing more suitable to riding, including men’s attire and bloomers.

As we know, this was not always well-received! In Norwich, New York in 1895, a group of young men pledged not to associate with any woman in bloomers and to use “all honorable means to render such costumes unpopular in the community where I reside.” (Link, bottom page)

Susan B. Anthony told the New York World’s Nellie Bly that bicycling had “done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”

Catching Fire

by Heather Harris Brady

So now you know about my checkered musical past, you might as well know this – I am also a grade A marching band geek. It’s true, the first few notes from the drum line and I’m bouncing, clapping and grinning from ear to ear like a toddler at a birthday party.  While the embed above shows my beloved Spartan Marching Band, I only marched in high school as a twirler in the color guard. Except for a few choice moments at band camp I loved every minute of it. Even though I was a wallflower, backed up by the band I could march out without a second thought.

For my senior finale at football homecoming I twirled a fire baton. I found it in the back of the supply closet and it was old school – with little cages on the end for the gasoline-soaked cloth. For this performance I wore my regular uniform, covered in 6″ long white fringe and yeah, I probably had quite a bit of hairspray to hold my carefully feathered hair in place. No one questioned it, not the band director, not my family and certainly not me because who wouldn’t want to twirl fire, right?

That said, I cannot imagine showing up to a game and watching my daughter do it. It seems like we are all so protective now, and of course, that’s not without good reason. But I wonder, do we all have some inside need for the adrenaline rush that makes us feel alive? Maybe that’s why books like The Hunger Games are so popular. They’re certainly a lot more exciting than the books I had – back in the time when I was catching fire for myself.