A Year in a School Bus: Amid COVID-19, A Family Finds Freedom Traveling the American West

A Year in a School Bus: Amid(əˈmid) COVID-19, A Family Finds Freedom Traveling the American West

By Madeline Carlisle

Paula wakes up in her bus around 4:30 a.m. most days. She can usually still see the stars. She works for a few hours, often on freelance(ˈfrēˌlans) projects using her training as a biologist, and makes breakfast(ˈbrekfəst) when her 12-year-old son Max gets up around 7:00. (TIME has agreed to grant Paula and Max pseudonyms(ˈso͞odənim) out of concerns for their safety.) She feeds their dog and cat, and then she and Max, who is on the autism(ˈôˌtizəm) spectrum(ˈspektrəm), begin homeschooling. They follow specialized(ˈspeSHəˌlīzd), skills-based lesson plans to keep his work short and consistent—at least two to three hours a day, seven days a week. By 10:00, they usually “hit the ground running” on renovating(ˈrenəˌvāt) their bus, she says. They try to complete one project a day, big or small.

Paula, 39, and Max have lived in their 35-foot skoolie—a term for school buses which have been renovated into small mobile homes—for nearly a year, often traveling across public Bureau(ˈbyo͝orō) of Land Management (BLM) land in Arizona(ˌerəˈzōnə), California, Nevada(nəˈvadə, nəˈvädə) and Utah(ˈyo͞oˌtô, ˈyo͞oˌtä). BLM land makes up one-tenth of the land in the U.S.—much of which is in the American West—and huge portions(ˈpôrSH(ə)n) are available for dispersed(dəˈspərs) camping(ˈkampiNG), or camping away from developed recreation(ˌrekrēˈāSH(ə)n) facilities(fəˈsilədē).


Aligned Solutions

Aligned(əˈlīn) Solutions

By Steve Pavlian

Aligning your life can be very challenging. By alignment(əˈlīnmənt) I’m referring(rəˈfər) to harmonious(härˈmōnēəs) interactions among your:

frames / perspectives
living situation

We all have misalignments to deal with in one or more areas(ˈerēə) of life. Are you actively engaged in correcting those misalignments to create greater harmony(ˈhärmənē)? Or do you let misalignments fester?

Misalignments have a tendency to multiply(ˈməltəˌplī). They’re like clutter. Once we start tolerating(ˈtäləˌrāt) a little bit, pretty soon we have a lot more to deal with. Letting this happen can make your life feel very burdensome(ˈbərdnsəm) after a while.

Fixing Misalignments

Sometimes I feel like the majority of my personal growth work (on the personal side, not the professional side) has been mainly(ˈmānlē) about correcting misalignments in my life. Notice what areas of life aren’t working for me, and really fix them. A big step here is to define what a genuine(ˈjenyo͞oən) fix looks like.

Choosing Alignment

To choose alignment it’s important to stop choosing misalignment. Stop going for the partial(ˈpärSHəl) match; don’t be so easily seduced(səˈd(y)o͞os) by it. Set your standards higher on the full match. Stop tolerating the sound of metal(ˈmedl) grinding(ˈɡrīndiNG) on metal as the gears(ɡir) of your life are turning. When you hear that grinding sound, learn to stop immediately, find the source of the problem, and do what it takes to fix it. Then flip the switch back on.


The Hundred Languages of Children

The Hundred(ˈhəndrəd) Languages of Children

By Loris Malaguzzi

The child is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.

A hundred.

Always a hundred
ways of listening
of marveling(ˈmärvəl), of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover
a hundred worlds
to invent
a hundred worlds
to dream.

The child has
a hundred languages
(and a hundred hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and at Christmas.

They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred
they steal ninety-nine.

They tell the child:
that work and play
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together.

And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.


Man’s Search for Meaning

Man’s Search for Meaning

By Viktor E. Frankl

PREFACE(ˈprefəs) TO THE 1992 EDITION(əˈdiSH(ə)n)

This book has now lived to see nearly one hundred printings in English—in addition(əˈdiSH(ə)n) to having been published in twenty-one other languages. And the English editions alone have sold more than three million copies.

These are the dry facts, and they may well be the reason why reporters of American newspapers and particularly of American TV stations more often than not start their interviews, after listing these facts, by exclaiming(ikˈsklām): “Dr. Frankl, your book has become a true bestseller—how do you feel about such a success?”

Whereupon I react by reporting that in the first place I do not at all see in the bestseller status of my book an achievement and accomplishment on my part but rather an expression of the misery(ˈmiz(ə)rē) of our time: if hundreds of thousands of people reach out for a book whose very title promises to deal with the question of a meaning to life, it must be a question that burns under their fingernails(ˈfiNGɡərˌnāl).

To be sure, something else may have contributed to the impact of the book: its second, theoretical(THēəˈredək(ə)l) part (“Logotherapy(ˈTHerəpē) in a Nutshell(ˈnətˌSHel)”) boils(boil) down, as it were, to the lesson one may distill from the first part, the autobiographical(ˌôdəbīəˈɡrafək(ə)l) account (“Experiences in a Concentration(ˌkänsənˈtrāSH(ə)n) Camp”), whereas Part One serves as the existential(ˌeɡzəˈsten(t)SH(ə)l) validation of my theories(ˈTHirē). Thus(T͟Həs), both parts mutually(ˈmyo͞oCH(o͞o)əlē) support their credibility(ˌkredəˈbilədē).

I had none of this in mind when I wrote the book in 1945. And I did so within nine successive(səkˈsesiv) days and with the firm determination(dəˌtərməˈnāSH(ə)n) that the book should be published anonymously(əˈnäniməslē).


How ‘Friends’ Helps People Around the World Learn English

How ‘Friends’ Helps People Around the World Learn English

Language teachers say the show is a near-perfect amalgam(əˈmalɡəm) of easy-to-understand English and real-life scenarios(səˈnerēˌō) that feel familiar(fəˈmilyər) even to people who live worlds away from the West Village(ˈvilij).

By Mike Ives

True or false: In the television show “Friends,” Monica(ˈmänikə) Geller was invited to Rachel Green’s wedding.

The question is part of an English lesson for international students in San Jose, Calif., that is based entirely on the show’s pilot(ˈpīlət) episode(ˈepəˌsōd). It was designed by Elif Konus, a teacher from Turkey who once binge(binj)-watched “Friends” to improve her own English.

The class, and the teacher’s TV habits, illustrate(ˈiləˌstrāt) an international phenomenon(fəˈnäməˌnän) that emerged in the 1990s and has endured across generations: Young people who aren’t native English speakers appear to enjoy learning the language with help from the hit sitcom(ˈsitˌkäm).

Seventeen years after the final “Friends” episode, students and educators say that the show, still seen widely in syndication(ˌsindəˈkāSH(ə)n) around the world, works well as a learning resource. The dad jeans(jēnz) and cordless telephones may look dated, but the plot(plät) twists — falling in love, starting a career and other seminal(ˈsemənl) moments in a young person’s life — are still highly relatable(rəˈlādəb(ə)l).

“It’s really entertaining(ˌen(t)ərˈtāniNG) compared to other sitcoms, and it addresses universal issues,” Ms. Konus, 29, said by telephone from her home in Monterey(ˌmän(t)əˈrā, ˈmän(t)ərā), Calif. “The themes, if you ask me, speak to everyone.”


Monthly self-expansion project

Monthly self-expansion(ikˈspanSHən) project

By Derek Sivers

Here’s an idea: Every month, pick something you hate or know nothing about, and get to know it well. Spend a few hours per week, for an entire(ənˈtī(ə)r) month, just learning about that subject. Why?

The idea is inspired by a very successful friend of mine who is regrettably(rəˈɡredəblē) closed-minded. She hates everything that isn’t European, sophisticated(səˈfistəˌkādəd), and familiar(fəˈmilyər). Culture of India? Hates it. Chinese opera? Hates it. West African(ˈafrəkən) music? Hates it. Any mention of any of these things, and she completely shuts down. Appreciating them is not an option.

It made me realize that some of the greatest joys in my life are the things I used to hate, or know nothing about, and now have grown to love. Read my post “Loving what I used to hate” for my story about that.

So I thought: Instead of letting it happen accidentally(ˌaksəˈden(t)(ə)lē) or randomly(ˈrandəmlē), why not be deliberate(dəˈlib(ə)rət) about it? Some ideas of things to study for a month would be…

civil(ˈsiv(ə)l) engineering

emergency medical(ˈmedək(ə)l) training

If it’s learning a skill, read Josh Kaufman’s(ˈkôfmən) First 20 Hours and use that approach.

While you might lean towards things you’ve always wanted to learn about, I think it’s more interesting to ask yourself, “What do I have absolutely no interest in?” or “What sounds repulsive(rəˈpəlsiv) to me?”, then aim to understand one of those things. Start with a kind of music you hate, or a part of the world that sounds unappealing(ˌənəˈpēliNG) to you. That’s where the real self-expansion happens.

Whenever we learn about something, we learn to appreciate it. So it’s most rewarding if it’s something you previously had no appreciation for.

I like this idea a lot, and plan to do it soon.


Review of “The Godfather”

Review of “The Godfather”

By Roger Ebert

“The Godfather” is told entirely within a closed world. That’s why we sympathize(ˈsimpəˌTHīz) with characters who are essentially evil(ˈēvəl). The story by Mario Puzo(ˈpo͞ozō) and Francis(ˈfransəs) Ford(fôrd) Coppola(ˈkäpələ) is a brilliant conjuring(ˈkänjəriNG) act, inviting us to consider the Mafia(ˈmäfēə) entirely on its own terms. Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) emerges(əˈmərj) as a sympathetic and even admirable(ˈadm(ə)rəb(ə)l) character; during the entire film, this lifelong professional criminal(ˈkrim(ə)n(ə)l) does nothing of which we can really disapprove(ˌdisəˈpro͞ov).

During the movie we see not a single actual civilian(səˈvilyən) victim(ˈviktəm) of organized(ˈôrɡəˌnīzd) crime(krīm). No women trapped into prostitution(ˌprästəˈt(y)o͞oSH(ə)n). No lives wrecked(rekt) by gambling(ˈɡambəl). No victims of theft(THeft), fraud(frôd) or protection rackets(ˈrakəts). The only police officer with a significant speaking role is corrupt(kəˈrəpt).

The story views the Mafia from the inside. That is its secret, its charm(CHärm), its spell; in a way, it has shaped the public perception of the Mafia ever since. The real world is replaced by an authoritarian(əˌTHôrəˈterēən) patriarchy(ˈpātrēˌärkē) where power and justice flow from the Godfather, and the only villains(ˈvilən) are traitors(ˈtrādər). There is one commandment(kəˈman(d)mənt), spoken by Michael (Al Pacino): “Don’t ever take sides against the family.”


The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost(frôst)

Two roads diverged(dəˈvərj) in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy(ˈɡrasē) and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn(wôrn) them really about the same,

And both that morning equally(ˈēkwəlē) lay
In leaves(lēv) no step had trodden(ˈträdn) black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted(dout) if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh(sī)
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference


Life 3.0

Life 3.0

By Max Tegmark


The Tale(tāl) of the Omega(ōˈmāɡə) Team

The Omega Team was the soul of the company. Whereas the rest of the enterprise(ˈen(t)ərˌprīz) brought in the money to keep things going, by various commercial applications of narrow(ˈnerō) AI, the Omega Team pushed ahead in their quest for what had always been the CEO’s dream: building general artificial intelligence. Most other employees viewed “the Omegas,” as they affectionately(əˈfekSHənətlē) called them, as a bunch of pie-in-the-sky dreamers, perpetually(pərˈpeCHo͞oəlē) decades away from their goal. They happily indulged(inˈdəlj) them, however, because they liked the prestige(preˈstēZH) that the cutting-edge work of the Omegas gave their company, and they also appreciated the improved algorithms that the Omegas occasionally gave them.

What they didn’t realize was that the Omegas had carefully crafted their image to hide a secret: they were extremely(ikˈstrēmlē) close to pulling off the most audacious(ôˈdāSHəs) plan in human history. Their charismatic(ˌkerəzˈmadik) CEO had handpicked them not only for being brilliant researchers, but also for ambition, idealism(īˈdē(ə)ˌlizəm) and a strong commitment to helping humanity. He reminded them that their plan was extremely dangerous, and that if powerful governments found out, they would do virtually anything—including kidnapping(ˈkidnapiNG)—to shut them down or, preferably(ˈpref(ə)rəblē), to steal(stēl) their code. But they were all in, 100%, for much the same reason that many of the world’s top physicists(ˈfizəsəst) joined the Manhattan Project to develop nuclear weapons: they were convinced that if they didn’t do it first, someone less idealistic(ˌīdē(ə)ˈlistik) would.


What Robots Can—and Can’t—Do for the Old and Lonely

What Robots Can—and Can’t—Do for the Old and Lonely

For elderly Americans, social isolation is especially perilous(ˈperələs). Will machine companions fill the void(void)?

By Katie Engelhart

It felt good to love again, in that big empty house. Virginia(vərˈjinyə) Kellner got the cat last November, around her ninety-second birthday, and now it’s always nearby. It keeps her company as she moves, bent over her walker, from the couch to the bathroom and back again. The walker has a pair of orange scissors(ˈsizərz) hanging from the handlebar, for opening mail. Virginia likes the pet’s green eyes. She likes that it’s there in the morning, when she wakes up. Sometimes, on days when she feels sad, she sits in her soft armchair and rests the cat on her soft stomach(ˈstəmək) and just lets it do its thing. Nuzzle(ˈnəzəl). Stretch(streCH). Vibrate(ˈvīˌbrāt). Virginia knows that the cat is programmed to move this way; there is a motor(ˈmōdər) somewhere, controlling things. Still, she can almost forget. “It makes you feel like it’s real,” Virginia told me, the first time we spoke. “I mean, mentally(ˈment(ə)lē), I know it’s not. But—oh, it meowed(mēˈou) again!”

She named the cat Jennie, for one of the nice ladies who work at the local Department of the Aging in Cattaraugus(catrogəs) County, a rural area in upstate New York, bordering Pennsylvania. It was Jennie (the person) who told her that the county was giving robot pets to old people like her. Did she want one? She could have a dog or a cat.