What a crazy, insane week it’s been.
We started out with a shuttered federal government until the honorables up in Washington figured out some basic playground manners and walked our country away from the edge of global financial pandemonium. In light of the magnitude of all that, I thought I’d take it a little easy on you readers for Lunch Links.
First, here’s an excellent, but lengthy, article  in Wired about an innovative teaching method at work in Matamoros, Mexico, a chaotic border city I happened to live near in years past.
The article focuses on one teacher’s embrace of an unusual teaching technique that puts education in the hands of students, by tapping into the children’s natural curiosity. The students he taught were from backgrounds that few of us could imagine, living in or next to a city dump, with little access to electricity, much less computers or Internet, in a school referred to as a lugar de castigo—”a place of punishment.” And they ended up embracing this new way of teaching and, by early measures, succeeding.
The entire article  is well worth a read, but here’s a few graphs that really stuck with me:
Juárez Correa [the teacher] also brought something else back from the Internet. It was the fable of a forlorn burro trapped at the bottom of a well. Since thieves had broken into the school and sliced the electrical cord off of the classroom projector (presumably to sell the copper inside), he couldn’t actually show them the clip that recounted the tale. Instead, he simply described it.
One day, a burro fell into a well, Juárez Correa began. It wasn’t hurt, but it couldn’t get out. The burro’s owner decided that the aged beast wasn’t worth saving, and since the well was dry, he would just bury both. He began to shovel clods of earth into the well. The burro cried out, but the man kept shoveling. Eventually, the burro fell silent. The man assumed the animal was dead, so he was amazed when, after a lot of shoveling, the burro leaped out of the well. It had shaken off each clump of dirt and stepped up the steadily rising mound until it was able to jump out.
Juárez Correa looked at his class. “We are like that burro,” he said. “Everything that is thrown at us is an opportunity to rise out of the well we are in.”
Hey, did you know it’s North Carolina State Fair time? Heres a link  to a searchable map for the fair to look up events and food. I just typed “fried” and about 35 places popped up.
If you happen to be going tomorrow, do yourself a favor and attend the Junior Livestock Sale of Champions  at 11 am. Saturday in the Jim Graham Building. I got to witness this a few fairs ago, and it remains one of my favorite fair events. You may want to skip, however, if you have issues with seeing animals sold for eventual slaughter.
I’m also loving the fall weather and hope to make it out to the mountains soon to see the changing leaves in all their splendor. For all of you lucky enough to already live in the majestic Western part of the state, consider me jealous. If I do get up there, I’ll be sure to check out this useful map (see below)  from Appalachian State University’s biology department to the changing leaves.
The biology department also keeps a “fall color report “  with weekly updates and the amazing level of detail you’d expect from actual scientists.
I’ll end with one shutdown-related link. Amongst all of the very real and significant things that happened during the shutdown (including North Carolina being the only state to suspend TANF  and WIC vouchers  for at-risk children, infants and their parents), there were some not so consequential effects .
So, ladies and gentlemen, behold one of our nation’s treasures, the Giant Panda Cam  at the National Zoo, which is now back up and running. Click here  to access and start humming some patriotic music in gratitude of having a (somewhat) functioning federal government once again.