Monday, August 31, 2009

Homeschooling Strengthens Families

Recently, I have been reminded how homeschooling benefits our youngest child specifically and younger siblings in general.

Two year ago Baby Bop came to our family as a short term foster care placement. He was 14 months old and suffering from a multitude of problems mostly caused by neglect. I honestly can’t image how I could have met his needs without the aid of our 3 daughters. Because we homeschool, Baby Bop had constant stimulation. Someone was always rocking, playing with, feeding, carrying, talking to, singing to, and reading to this little boy. Our home was always a place of learning, not only for Baby Bop, but for our girls.

Here are a few examples:

1) As many homeschoolers do, we have maps up on our walls. We have a map of the United States that hangs on the wall near the highchair. When I would feed Baby Bop, I would point at a state and talk about it. The girls would do the same. Not only do my girls know the names and locations of the states, but Baby Bop can identify about 20 states.

2) We recently had neurological evaluations done on Baby Bop and our other girls. Baby Bop did surprisingly well. I give the credit to my youngest daughter. Much of infant brain development is a product of “floor time.” This is the time babies spend creeping and crawling which aids the brains natural process of organizing and culling brain pathways. My youngest daughter spent hours on the floor with Baby Bop playing horses and dogs.

Even though Baby Bop spent his first year confined to a crib and car seat, the extra floor time helped him catch up to normal brain development. Baby Bop is not the only who benefited from the floor time. My youngest daughter is also my best speller and earliest reader, even though I spent little or no time teaching spelling or reading.

3) Another benefit of having children of different ages learning at home is the “mimic factor.” My younger children follow the good examples set by the older ones. Younger children want to try more challenging school work because they want to do what their older siblings are doing.

We use learning journals as part of both academic and religious studies. Recently during our family devotional time, Baby Bop demanded a learning journal when he realized all the girls had one. He was so proud of himself, when he came to show me his learning journal.

4) Baby Bop’s speech therapist commented that Baby Bop is different from her other clients in his ability to extemporize during imaginative play. My older children do a lot of that sort of thing, but even I was surprised at his level of creativity.

For example while waiting for an appointment, my middle daughter kept Baby Bop busy by pretending to roast marsh mellows over a red circle on a gym floor. We were ready to go just about the time they pretended to make smores. Baby Bop walked to our van with his hands cupped as if he were holding the smores. After being buckled into his car seat, he pretended to take a big bite. He then made a shocked look on his face, grabbed his sister’s hand and pretended to spit out the bite he had just taken. Baby Bop then pretended to take a small bite, held his mouth as if he had taken a bite of hot food and said “hot.”

Through homeschooling, Baby Bop is where he is today, my children are well connected to each other and to Baby Bop. They have gained invaluable life experiences, as wells academic accomplishments.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

It is that time again! Please remember to send in your entry for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. You have eight hours.

The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be hosted at Home Grown

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday (today) evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A great article on Jaime Escalante

Thomas Sowell said:

"At one time, one-fourth of all the Mexican American students who passed advanced placement calculus -- in the entire country -- came from the school where Jaime Escalante taught."

My father sent me a link to a great, but sad, article on Jaime Escalante. In Stand and Deliver Revisited Jerry Jesness gives us "The untold story behind the famous rise -- and shameful fall -- of Jaime Escalante, America's master math teacher."

I read the whole article. The article is well written. I had heard snippets about Jaime Escalante, but never knew the full story. At one level this is a powerful story about how one man can make a difference. At another level it is the shameful story of how a bureaucracy destroyed the potential of hundreds of students.

Jaime Escalante helped hundreds of students stretch to a level they had never been to before. Hundreds more students could have had a much better education if Jaime Escalante had not been chased out.

Now I want to track down the movie Stand and Deliver.

Technorati tags: Jaime Escalante, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education

NHELD Bulletin on Voluntary Submission Of Information To The Government

The next time someone from the government asks you for information, the NHELD encourages to consider not giving it. Too often government bureaucrats ask for information that they don't have a legal basis in acquiring.

Voluntary Submission Of Information To The Government has eight reasons why we should be hesitant in giving personal data in the myriad of forms that float through our lives. The bulletin concludes with:

Most parents are good-hearted, honest, and have nothing to hide. Most parents, when asked, quite naturally would be inclined to be polite and forthcoming and provide whatever information anyone wants. This is truly a sign of the goodness and respectfulness of many parents. Everybody wants to be nice, and it’s important to be nice, even to the government when appropriate. Unfortunately, today’s parents must consider the need to protect all information about their children because that information be distributed far beyond our borders. Unfortunately, today, it’s probably wise for parents to be parents first, and to be nice to the government last.

Pretty much now any time a form asks for information, and says option, I don't give the information.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education

I wonder how many Superintendents trust public schools with their children

An article on the new Sacramento school chief had:

Raymond pledged to visit each of the district's schools during the upcoming school year. He reaffirmed his commitment to live in the district and send his three children – ages 7, 6 and 2 – to district schools.
Raymond will be the first Sacramento City Unified superintendent in 20 years to send his children to district schools. He said his wife, Julie, has been house hunting in East Sacramento and Land Park.

I would love to know the percentage of school superintendents, union school officials, and legislators trust the public schools with their own children. I expect few do, which makes it hypocritical when they say homeschoolers should trust and support the public schools.

This reminded me of something we came across a couple years back: public school teachers are twice as likely as the general population to put their children in provide schools.

(Hat tip: Friends of Dave)

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education

Learning from history - Yuri Maltsev on Soviet Medicine

I found Yuri N. Maltsev's column What Soviet Medicine Teaches Us fascinating. The column starts:

In 1918, the Soviet Union became the first country to promise universal "cradle-to-grave" healthcare coverage, to be accomplished through the complete socialization of medicine. The "right to health" became a "constitutional right" of Soviet citizens.
The proclaimed advantages of this system were that it would "reduce costs" and eliminate the "waste" that stemmed from "unnecessary duplication and parallelism" — i.e., competition.
These goals were similar to the ones declared by Mr. Obama and Ms. Pelosi — attractive and humane goals of universal coverage and low costs. What's not to like?
The system had many decades to work, but widespread apathy and low quality of work paralyzed the healthcare system. In the depths of the socialist experiment, healthcare institutions in Russia were at least a hundred years behind the average US level. Moreover, the filth, odors, cats roaming the halls, drunken medical personnel, and absence of soap and cleaning supplies added to an overall impression of hopelessness and frustration that paralyzed the system. According to official Russian estimates, 78 percent of all AIDS victims in Russia contracted the virus through dirty needles or HIV-tainted blood in the state-run hospitals.

It is worth reading the whole column.

Technorati tags: healthcare, reform

We see lightning going to the ground

I didn't know that lightning went up to space. Lightning’s Mirror Image, Only Much Bigger reports that recently scientists have learned that sometimes lightening goes from clouds up, up to the low levels of space.

The lightening strikes up are about 40 miles, compared to the tiny ones we see which are typically about four miles.

We live in a fascinating universe.

Technorati tags: lightning, space

John Gatto invites you to join him in a conspiracy

My father sent me a link to a chapter from John Taylor Gatto's book Weapons of Mass Instruction. The chapter starts with:

If you read this to the end, you'll discover that I'm inviting you to join a real conspiracy, call it an open conspiracy, with real consequences on millions of real lives. I know that sounds megalomaniacal, but be patient. If we pull this off, a great many will bless us, although the school industry few will curse us. This is about a project to destroy the standardized testing industry, one in which you, personally, will be an independent unit commander. This adventure is called "The Bartleby Project, for reasons you'll learn in just a little while. And keep in mind as you read, this has nothing to do with test reform. It's about test destruction.

I think many homeschoolers have already joins his conspiracy.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Homeschoolers have style!

Misty is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Homeschool Bytes.

She starts with:

Homeschoolers have Style! Lots of it, in all kinds of flavors.
With the freedom homeschooling affords, comes individual style. We can afford to experiment, jump around, take a leisurely path through phonics, or whatever suits our family best.


Pop over and read about some of the ways homeschoolers have style.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Monday, August 24, 2009

Not quite ready to start "school"

I always fantasize about starting our homeschool year with an organized plan, our bookshelves sorted, and clear, concise goals. This fantasy is very similar to my end of year goals of text books all finished, our bookshelves net and tidy, and our objectives clearly accomplished.

The reality looks more like an over ambitious scheduled followed by a midstream change of direction, and then out with a whimper. I never get to check all my little boxes, and I do so enjoy checking boxes.

This year is a bit worse than most.

The problem all started on the last day of May. That was the day we discovered our last foster child had given us lice. It took me 4 weeks, hundreds of hours of cleaning and head checks, a trip to a therapist who didn't appreciate the gravity of the situation, plus $1000 (lice removal products, the large water bill the resulted from all the extra loads of laundry, a special attachment for the vacuum, a black light, therapy, and cleaning service) to finally get rid of the problem.

Because of the lice, I had to reschedule a surgery I had been putting off (one of those female things). I rescheduled it yet again, so that we could sneak in a trip to visit our family back east. The day before the trip, I fell and injured my tailbone where I lost a few weeks in a fog of pain and pills.

The surgery is now scheduled for Wednesday. I'm expecting to lose another two weeks to pain and pills.

On June 1st we happily adopted our foster son, Baby Bop. His name change (not the Baby Bop part, but adding our last name) set in motion a nightmarish bureaucratic paperwork mess which costs me hours on the phone talking to different government agency who don't appear to talk to each other. California's budget mess with its subsequent Friday furloughs was a great help. As a result of the nightmarish bureaucratic paperwork mess, Baby Bop temporarily lost his medical coverage and access to all his medical specialists.

This wouldn't have been so bad, except the week before we left on our trip, Baby Bop displayed a repeated myoclonic jerk response triggered by exposure to a video screen (I let Baby Bop watch Dragon Tales while all the other kids were out so that I could get some work done on the computer. I noticed this his head would jerk to the far right every 5-20 seconds. After observing this pattern for 15 minutes, I realized it wasn't a voluntary movement.)

Lucky for us, I caught it on video and transferred it to my mp3 player. We paid out of pocket to take Baby Bop to the doctor who was quite impressed by the video and asked to run it down to pediatric neurology. Pediatric Neurology was also quite impressed and said Baby Bop needs an EEG and to please make an appointment to see us.

The good news is that as long as Baby Bop doesn't watch TV, he is symptom free. Of course, this means I can't take any parental shortcuts and use electronic babysitting. I finally got my wish to by a TV free household.

Theoretically, Baby Bop's insurance will be reinstated on September 1st and we will be off to the neurologists.

Soccer has already started and Henry is coaching our youngest daughter's team again. (That was a big mistake. I should have signed the kids up for martial arts so that they could all be at the same place at the same time.)

Our teenage daughter's 6 am scripture study class starts on Monday. All our music classes start the following week.

Oh, and my daughter's pet rat died this morning.

Our tentative start date for "school" is the second week of September. I wondering if I would be happier if I decided we were "unschoolers" and forgot all about schedules and my check boxes. But, I do so love check boxes.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

A Spainish Carnival of Homeschooling!

This is so cool! I was recently informed that there is a Spainish Carnival of Homeschooling! So far there have been eleven editions!

My high school Spainish is a bit rusty, so I used BableFish to read some of the entries.

Does anyone know of any other homeschooling carnivals in other languages? Given the hostility in Germany to homeschoolers I doubt there is a German version.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Another beautiful picture from APOD - The Star Clusters of NGC 1313

Anne Pellerin gave me permission to post the picture of The Star Clusters of NGC 1313:

Technorati tags: , , Star Clusters, M94, NGC 1313

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

It is that time again! Please remember to send in your entry for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.

The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be hosted at HomeschoolBytes.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday (today) evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Learning from history and commenting on the future of space

Bob Durtschi sent me a link to How to succeed or fail on a frontier. Nick Szabo, of Unenumerated, starts off comparing two countries which explored the Indian Ocean in the 1600s.

The first was China. They had huge ships, huge fleets, but ultimately they pulled back and demanded that even the privately own ships stop trading.

The second country was Portugal. They started off small, and stayed fairly small for a long time, while they learned how to travel long distances in their tiny ships. They built up trading posts and over time came to dominate.

Nick makes that point that in the exploration of space NASA is the equivalent of China. They have gone in for the big, expensive, and prestigious programs, which have contributed little to the fundamental efforts of moving into space.

If this sounds interest, read Nick's complete post, for he does a great job in making his post.

Technorati tags: China, Portugal, Space

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

We are home!

We had a great week in Viriginia visiting family.

We got up at an awful hour this morning, 4:15, which is 1:15 California time. We flew to Charlotte, NC. and then to SFO. No real problems, but Baby Bop was fussy.

It is nice to be home. We have a ton of laundry and pounds of mail.

Virginia was beautiful. We enjoyed the rain, but are happy to leave the bugs.

We're all very exhausted. The children might be in bed for the night by 7:30 PM.

It is good to be home.

Technorati tags: ,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

United Breaks Guitars Part Two is up!

Even though we are on vacation, we've been waiting for the sequel to the first song, United Breaks Guitars.

We've already watched this a couple times today:

David Carroll did a good job. It isn't as bouncy as the first video, but it is more polished, and just as entertaining.

Technorati tags: United, breaks, guitars

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Juggling Workshop

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Home Spun Juggling.

The carnival starts out:

Welcome to the Carnival of Homeschooling Juggling Workshop! I have heard many people use the term juggling when talking about their homeschooling life. This always makes me smile, because I am a juggler! I figured I would walk you all through one of my juggling workshops as you read this week's contributions to the carnival.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

It is that time again! Please remember to send in your entry for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.

The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be hosted at Home Spun Juggling.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Posting will be light for awhile

Janine, the children and I are in Virginia visiting family. Our younger two children left the week before, traveling with my parents.

We spent all day Wednesday flying. It was a long day. We got up at 5:30 AM and took a 9:00 AM flight to Phoenix, Arizona. We waited for a couple hours then flew to Charlotte, North Carolina. We waited for another couple hours, and boarded the plane. It was about 10:30 PM, EST, and we had to wait on the plane for over a half hour. Our oldest took a turn with Baby Bop; I was very impressed with how well she kept him pleasant and entertained. We arrived in Virginia a little after midnight.

Thursday and Friday have been pretty low keyed. Our children played with their cousins. It has been great. My youngest daughter has pointed out a couple times that the house next door is for sale.

Now we're about to head off to visit with Janine's sister and family.

Technorati tags: family

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Another beautiful picture from APOD - Starburst Galaxy M94

Marcin Paciorek gave me permission to post his picture of the Starburst Galaxy M94:

This is a relatively small galaxy of 30,000 light-years across. By comparison, our Galaxy is 180,000 light-years across.

Technorati tags: , , Starburst Galaxy, M94, Marcin Paciorek

A doctor speaks on Obama's Healthcare plan

My brother in the Caribbean posted a link on Facebook this morning to a column by Dr. Zane F. Pollard. In Ewa Kochanska's introduction to Dr. Pollard's column she writes:

While the healthcare reform debate has been picking up this summer, the conversation is mostly between politicians and average citizens who do not practice medicine. US doctors and nurses seem to have been left out from this dispute, even though the outcome will influence them, their lives, their practice, and their ability to stay in business, enormously.
Clearly, if the reform is not private practice "friendly" we as a community might lose our best physicians and our economy might weaken as a result of doctors shutting down or going out of business.


She makes a great point. With that in mind, here is the start of Dr. Pollard's column:

I have been sitting quietly on the sidelines watching all of this national debate on healthcare. It is time for me to bring some clarity to the table by explaining many of the problems from the perspective of a doctor.
First off, the government has involved very few of us physicians in the healthcare debate. While the American Medical Association has come out in favor of the plan, it is vital to remember that the AMA only represents 17% of the American physician workforce.
I have taken care of Medicaid patients for 35 years while representing the only pediatric ophthalmology group left in Atlanta, Georgia that accepts Medicaid. For example, in the past 6 months I have cared for three young children on Medicaid who had corneal ulcers. This is a potentially blinding situation because if the cornea perforates from the infection, almost surely blindness will occur. In all three cases the antibiotic needed for the eradication of the infection was not on the approved Medicaid list.
Each time I was told to fax Medicaid for the approval forms, which I did. Within 48 hours the form came back to me which was sent in immediately via fax, and I was told that I would have my answer in 10 days. Of course by then each child would have been blind in the eye.

He writes about many more instances of how government controled health care provides poorer health care.

I heard a line a couple weeks back government controled health care bureaucracy would have the kind heart of the IRS and the efficiency of the DMV.

It is worth reading the whole column.

Technorati tags: healthcare, reform

Try to look on the sunny side of life

ptimistic Women Live Longer, Healthier:

Optimistic women live longer and healthier lives than their pessimistic peers, a new study suggests.
Specifically, researchers found that women who see the glass as half full are at a lower risk for developing heart disease, and have a lower risk of dying from any cause, than those who see the glass as half empty.
The new research, detailed in the journal Circulation, also found that women with a high degree of cynical hostility — defined as harboring hostile thoughts toward others or having a general mistrust of people — were at a higher risk of dying in general.
"As a physician, I'd like to see people try to reduce their negativity in general," said Dr. Hilary A. Tindle, lead author of the study and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. "The majority of evidence suggests that sustained, high degrees of negativity are hazardous to health."

Technorati tags: optimism, health

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The LOLCATS edition

Gary has put together this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at He starts with:

If you never heard of lolcats, I intend to enlighten you using examples to introduce topics. The name lolcats comes from the Latin “lol” (which has been co-opted by internet geeks to stand for “laugh out loud”) and “cats” which is Middle English for “cats.”
Lolcats aren't always cats but usually picture some expressive or bizarre animal with a funny caption. As you will notice the spelling and grammar are not what you might consider standard. After all, these are cats. It's hard enough for them to type on a standard keyboard. Open-minded people can call their writing “creative” and leave it at that.


Swing by for some funny pictures, great captions, and lots of good posts on homeschooling.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

Check out the new Google Search

This morning Google News had several links to articles about the new Search Engine. It is still under development and hasn't been officially released.

I played with it for five minutes. It does seem to do a better job of finding what I was looking for.

Technorati tags: Google, Search

Monday, August 10, 2009

Doing a job vs. doing a job well

Almost thirty years ago I read How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life by Alan Lakein. A famous Alan Lakein quote is:

Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

His book changed my life. I started building lists. I kept track of my life via a little pocket calendar for several years before graduating to a Covey Planner.

Alan is a great proponent of building lists of tasks you want to do. Once you have created the list, you then go back and mark them with an A, or a B, or a C. The “A” tasks are those which are crucial and have to be done. The “B” tasks are those that are important and it would be good to do. The “C” tasks are those you would like to get to, but aren’t that important. The last step is going back and number the A, B and C tasks. The list becomes your marching orders for the day. (Though at times you have to be flexible and make changes.)

Building lists gives me guidance and focus to help me accomplish important tasks.

For the last three weeks I’ve been working with my daughters to organize their time. I’m trying to train them to step back now and then, to ponder what they want to do each day. Each morning we'll sit down and build the lists together. I give them a few tasks I want them to do, and ask them for ideas of things they want to get done.

One of the projects I’ve had them do is the yard work. They have done a great job. We have been able to give up our typical Saturday morning couple hours of yard work, because they take care of the yard during the week. This has allowed us to do fun things as a family on Saturdays, like go to the beach and to the zoo.

It hit me this week that I want to explore with them another idea about time management: the quality of the job.

About twenty years ago I heard a company VP say that activities could be broken into three categories:

1) Don’t have to be done.
2) Have to be done.
3) Have to be done well.

Sometimes we’ll tackle a task and forget to consider which category does it fall into. An important task doesn’t always have to be done well. It is important to me that the dishes be loaded into the dishwasher, but once my daughters are above a certain level of quality, they don’t have to go for a perfect job. This is also true the yard work. I want the lawn mowed; I’m not looking for the perfect $5.00 job.

How does this apply to homeschooling?

Well some times we’ll get distracted by jobs that don’t really matter, and don’t need to be done. And other times we can get so focused on a task, trying to do the perfect job, that we’ll miss out on the things that really matter.

As you ramp up for another year of homeschooling, step back now and then and ask yourself. “Does this task need to be done? Does it have to be done well?”

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

Saturday, August 08, 2009

From the archives - Thinking outside the box

A friend send this story to me back in 2001:


A company was hiring new staff. One question in the written exam was:

You are driving your car in a wild stormy night. You pass by a bus station, and you see three people waiting for the bus: An old lady who looks as if she is about to die. A doctor who had once saved your life. A man/woman you have been dreaming to be with. You can only take one passenger in your car.

Which one will you choose? Please explain your answer. Think about it before you continue reading. This must be some kind of personality test. Every answer has its reasoning.

You could pick up the old lady. She is going to die, and thus you should save her first. You could take the doctor, because he once saved your life. This will be the perfect chance to pay him back. However, you could always pay the doctor back in the future, but you may never be able to find the perfect lover once you pass this chance.

How would you answer?


Now think for a bit before reading any more.

How would you answer this?


The candidate who was eventually hired (out of 200 applicants) did not have to explain his answer. WHAT DID HE SAY? He simply answered: "Give the car key to the doctor. Let him take the old lady to the hospital. I will stay and wait for the bus with the man/woman of my dreams."

Sometimes, we would gain more if we were able to give up our stubborn limitations.


Technorati tags: creative, Thinking

Friday, August 07, 2009

Another reason to homeschool - protect your children from the UN

Allen Quist's column Obama Administration To Impose Liberal UN Curriculum warns:

American schools used to teach the fundamental values of the United States--including the inalienable, God-given rights of life, liberty and property, as guaranteed by our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Not any more. Now our students will be indoctrinated in the UN's definition of human rights. As clarified by the UN's UDHR, our rights now may not "be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations" (Art 29:3). Our children will be taught that they have only those rights the UN says they have.

The title of the column is a bit misleading. The administration is trying to bribe the state governments. If they don't follow the lead of the U.S. Department of Education, they'll miss out on some money.

The United Nations may be a great idea. It would be wonderful if all the nations in the world worked together, to get along, help each other, and support each other's peaceful goals.

However, in practice the United Nations is often hostile to American interests.

A frequent reason for many to homeschool is to protect their children from the brainwashing in government schools. Here is another instance of the government's attempt.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, public school, public education, United Nations

Reminder - send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

It is that time again! Please remember to send in your entry for the next Carnival of Homeschooling.

The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be hosted by Gary at

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Here are the instructions for sending in a submission.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education,

A big black eye for Bing

I like Google. I use it for most of my searches. I would love for Bing to give it a serious challenge. If Bing started to get more traffic, it would be because Bing did better searches. We would all benefit.

But the world of business isn't just about building better mousetraps. Perception plays heavily.

Rogue Pharmacies Dominate Bing's Ads is a big black eye:

The pharmacy ads that appear alongside search results on Microsoft's Bing are dominated by "rogue" companies, according to a report released yesterday by KnujOn, a spam-monitoring company, and LegitScript, a firm that verifies online pharmacies.
The report investigates the ads that appear when a person enters search terms such as "generic meds" or "online pharmacy" into Bing. Of the 69 advertisers that the company investigated, only seven were deemed to be legitimate. The remaining 62 did not require a prescription, in violation of US law, did not have a US address or offered to ship drugs from outside of the US.


I wonder what the Microsoft guy in charge of selling ads was thinking. Did he not know who his customers were? Or did they offer the best price?

Technorati tags: Bing, Google

How do you motivate people?

Dan Ariely, of Predictably Irrational, reveals in The Trouble with Cold Hard Cash that motivating people with money doesn't seem as effective as a specific prize:

Thankfully, there is some data on this debate. A few years ago Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company decided to test which method was more successful in an effort to improve sales of a new line of Aquatred tires. Their plan was simple and elegant: first they ranked their 60 retail districts according to previous sales, then divided them into two groups of equal performance and assigned one group to receive monetary incentives and the other to receive tangible incentives of equal value to the first group.
The results were very interesting; it turned out that the tangible-reward group increased sales by 46% more than the monetary-reward group. They also improved in terms of the mix of products sold by 37%. One explanation, and it seems to me a fairly good one, is that we can visualize tangible rewards (imagine yourself on a Hawaiian beach), which creates an emotional response. Money, on the other hand, is not accompanied by images as often (aside from maybe Scrooge McDuck swimming in piles of it), and lacks the emotional pull that tangible rewards have, so they’re less effective in motivating employees. I guess it’s called “cold, hard cash” rather than “future beach vacation cash” for a reason.


It may be that when trying to get our children to do something, we'll have better results with something specific like a half hour of TV or a piece of cake, than a couple dollars.

Technorati tags: motivation, money, parenting, children

Maybe the Holodeck isn't that far away

This is pretty amazing: Touchable Hologram Becomes Reality:

Researchers from the University of Tokyo have developed 3D holograms that can be touched with bare hands. Generally, holograms can't be felt because they're made only of light. But the new technology adds tactile feedback to holograms hovering in 3D space.
Called the Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display, the hologram projector uses an ultrasound phenomenon called acoustic radiation pressure to create a pressure sensation on a user's hands, which are tracked with two Nintendo Wiimotes. As the researchers explain, the method doesn't use any direct contact and so doesn't dilute the quality of the hologram. The researchers, led by Hiroyuki Shinoda, currently have the technology on display at SIGGRAPH 2009 in New Orleans.

Technorati tags: Holodeck, hologram

I've taken twitter off the blog

I noticed yesterday morning that when loading our blog that the browser hung while trying to read in my last five entries from twitter. Our sitemeter statistics were down. I decided to remove it from our blog template. Our blog then loaded just fine.

I found out later that a Hacker attack had shut down Twitter:

A hacker attack Thursday shut down the fast-growing messaging service Twitter for hours, while Facebook experienced intermittent access problems.
Twitter said it suffered a denial-of-service attack, in which hackers command scores of computers to a single site at the same time, preventing legitimate traffic from getting through.
The fact that a relatively common attack could disable such a well-known Web site shows just how young and vulnerable Twitter still is, even as it quickly becomes a household name used by celebrities, large corporations, small businesses and even protesters in Iran.
"Clearly they need a stronger infrastructure to be able to fight this kind of attack," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at computer security firm Sophos. Twitter's tech support teams, he added, "must be frankly out of breath" trying to keep up with the site's enormous growth.
According to comScore, Twitter had 20.1 million unique visitors in the United States in June, some 34 times the 593,000 a year earlier.


I have been using twitter for just over a month. I feel a little vain using it. I wonder why would anyone be interested in what a software engineer is doing. Yet I have 32 followers.

A link to my tweets was on our blog for a month. For now the twitter link will stay off.

I will going to keep tweeting.

Technorati tags: Twitter

Thursday, August 06, 2009

For only $8,000 you can put your own statellite into space

Slashdot reports that you can Orbit Your Own Satellite For $8,000.

I wonder if Janine would consider this a good science project?

It is a bit out of my price range. I'd probably do it when they get it down in the range of a thousand dollars.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, Satellite

Radical Speech: Dave Barry Talks About Politically Correct Campuses

Dave Barry wrote:

"As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government."

A student put this quote up on his door. Marquette University demanded that the student take it down. They found this statement offensive.

I find it funny, because this is the kind of thing all of our Founding Fathers would have said, and many did say very similar statements.

Dave Barry reponds to this, and what has happened to free speech in universities since sixties:

(Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs)

Technorati tags: free, speech, Dave, Barry

PC Magazines top 100 Web Sites of 2009

One of the probelms with the internet is there is so much stuff it is impossible to be aware of even a small fraction of what is out there.

The Top 100 Web Sites of 2009 has some suggestions of things you might want to check out.

(Hat tip: digg)

Technorati tags: Top, Web, Sites

It is a good thing I didn't go in to work early

I got up at an awful hour this morning, 4:45 AM, to take my parents and two of my daughters to the airport. They are flying to Virginia to spend some time with my brother and his family.

Yesterday I had planned on coming home, taking a shower, and then going into work early. I decided to do a little blogging and queue up some posts for the rest of the day.

It is a good thing I stayed home. We had an unseasonal rain today. I can't remember the last time it rained during the summer. It has been a long time.

We've been leaving our rabbit out on the lawn, in a cage, so it can eat some grass. The cage doesn't have a roof. Once it started to rain I pulled the rabbit and cage back under a roof. If I had gone off to work, the poor rabbit would have been wet and cold for much of the day.

Technorati tags: rain, rabbit, family

Other homeschooling carnivals

The first Homeschoolg Humor Blog Carnival was hosted by Rebecca at Leaving Footprints. Go here to submit an entry.

The recent Charlotte Mason Carnival was hosted by Molly at Counter-cultural School. Go here to submit an entry.

The recent Hands-on Homeschool Carnival was hosted by Cindy at Our Journey Westward. Go here to submit an entry.

The recent Homeschooled Kids Blog Carnival was hosted by Julie at Homeschooling-Ideas. Go here to submit an entry.

The recent Homeschool Showcase was hosted by Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. Go here to submit an entry.

And as always, if you know of another active homeschooling carnival, please leave a comment or send me an email.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education

Another beautiful picture from APOD - The Hercules Cluster of Galaxies

Tony Hallas gave me permission to post his picture of The Hercules Cluster of Galaxies:

I once heard there are over 100 billion Solar Systems in our Galaxy. There appears to be at least 100 billion galaxies in the known universe. As Douglas Adams wrote the universe is bigger that we can imagine.

Technorati tags: , , Tony Hallas, Hercules Cluster, Galaxies

John Stossel on Government control health care

John Stossel does a great job reporting on Health Care in Canada and the UK. (I would love to have embeded the 20/20 video in my blog, but I could figure out how.)

He makes several great points about increased costs, longer waiting times, and less research. The clincher was how Canadian health care is better for animals than for people.

Technorati tags: health, care

Tax Revenues are falling through the floor

The TaxProf Blog reports Tax Revenues Fall 18%, Biggest Drop Since Depression:

From the Associated Press:
Tax receipts are on pace to drop 18% this year, the biggest single-year decline since the Great Depression, while the federal deficit balloons to a record $1.8 trillion. Other figures in an Associated Press analysis underscore the recession's impact:
Individual income tax receipts are down 22% from a year ago.
Corporate income taxes are down 57%.
Social Security tax receipts could drop for only the second time since 1940
Medicare taxes are on pace to drop for only the third time ever.
See the dramatic graph

Contrast that with the rocket like increase in government spending. This doesn't bode well for the financial well being of the US.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Technorati tags: falling, Tax, Revenues

A top secret site of Netflix, and their company policy

I enjoyed How netflix gets your movies to your mailbox so fast. A journalist writes about his experience visiting a Netflix warehouse:

The Netflix warehouse in Carol Stream does not appear on any map. Your odds of finding it are slightly better than your odds of stumbling upon a rare insect in a field of weeds.
One could drive to Carol Stream, stop in a random office park, climb from one's car and scream, "Reveal thyself, Netflix!" This is not advisable. But the temptation remains.

Other Companies Should Have To Read This Internal Netflix Presentation is another good article about Netflix:

Ever since Netflix’s awesome vacation policy was revealed to the public (basically, there is no policy, it’s take the time you think you need), the company’s work policies have been of interest to people. A new 128-page presentation called “Reference Guide on our Freedom & Responsibility Culture” was recently sent around the company, and then put on SlideShare, where the blog Hacking Netflix found it.

I read the first third of the presentation. It looks like Netflix is doing a lot of the right things.

(Hat tip: Hacker News)

Technorati tags: Netflix

Monday, August 03, 2009

My daughters heard the music

I was watching this incredible video of a guy using Microsoft Paint to draw the Mona Lisa. My daughters heard the music and came to see what was going on. They stayed to watch the full video. Baby Bob watched it three times.

Pretty impressive.

(Hat tip: The Imformed Parent)

Technorati tags: Mona Lisa, Microsof Paint

An important problem with public education

PalmTree Pundit has a great quote from Gilbert Highet's The Art of Teaching:

Think how astonished you would be if your doctor told you that personally he really cared nothing about the art of healing, that he never read the medical journals and paid no attention to new treatments for common complaints, that apart from making a living he thought it completely unimportant whether his patients were sick or sound, and that his real interest was mountain-climbing. You would change your doctor. But the young cannot change their teachers -- at least, not until they reach university age, sometimes not even then. They have sometimes to submit to being treated by doctors of the mind, who seem to believe the treatment useless and the patient worthless. No wonder they often distrust education.

Thinking back over my K-12 experience there were clearly a several teachers who didn't really care. One of the big problems with government schools is it is almost impossible to get rid of bad teachers. They just keep drawing paychecks, and the children keep suffering.

I'm sure the vast majority, if not all, homeschool parents care about education, and their children know that education is important.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education, government schools, children, public school, public education