Friday, October 29, 2010

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

Don't forget to send in your submission to the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at Dewey's Treehouse.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

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

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Our five year anniversary

Five years ago we published our first post.

It has been a great five years. I think we're up for at least one more year.

Free Kaplan ACT and SAT prep class

Just in case you have children approaching college age and want a little help.

Free Online Kaplan SAT or ACT Prep Class (reg. $99)

Kaplan is offering a free PSAT, SAT and ACT prep class. This is a $99 class.

Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions is pleased to offer free online test preparation for the SAT, PSAT and ACT for Students. All students, freshmen through seniors, now have 24-7 on demand access to comprehensive preparation.

These lessons will guide students through instruction, practice and mastery on every skill tested on the exams. Kaplan’s proven methods are delivered through instructional video lessons, guided practice problems, and independent practice quizzes. Kaplan’s adaptive learning technology, Smart Track, analyzes the student performance and adjusts to provide each student with a customized learning plan. Smart Track also moves from course to course, and test to test with students, so that demonstrated mastery in the PSAT is carried over to the SAT.

Here’s how to sign up:

1.) Visit

Under “Free Resources” select “SAT Online”,“PSAT Online” or “ACT Online”.

2.) Click “Enroll Now”, then click “Proceed to Next Step

3.) Fill out “Billing Information” (don’t worry, it’s still free). You must complete all fields, including student and parent contact information.

4.) In the “Promotion Code” box, enter the discount code for the course you would like to begin :

• SAT Online KAS2S711

• PSAT Online KAS2P711

• ACT Online KAS2A711

5.) Click “Apply” next to the promo code box. Total should automatically reset to $0.

(Note: The first time I entered the discount code it didn't work and I got an error message. The second time I clicked "Apply" it worked.)

6.) Click “Submit Order”, and you’re done!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Affluenza Antidote Book Review

I was given a copy of The Affluenza Antidote: How Wealthy Families Can Raise Grounded Children in an Age of Apathy and Entitlement written by James V. D'Amico.

This isn't your typical therapist critique of family relationships. It is written by an investment banker who has spent his career working with very wealthy clients and their families.

Many of the circumstances were outside my realm of reality (households with over 3 million dollars of assets not including the family home), but I could relate to most of the situations.

In our household, we also struggle with finding the line between helping and letting our children find their own way. Wealth is such a comparative thing. Where I grew up, my family was "wealthy" for the community we lived in. Today, in comparison to our current household, my parents were poor. (In comparison to Mr. D'Amico's clients, we're poor). Regardless, I want my children to appreciate what they have.

I enjoyed the anecdotal accounts of strategies that worked and those that failed. D'Amico also used more than just his own experiences. He summarized and quoted a number of well researched books on this topic.

The chapter on public and private education was well done. (But, I can't begin to understand why he would take out a second mortgage to send two of his kids to boarding school or why some wealthy families send their children to public school just for socialization.)

This book also made me very philosophical about some political issues. Those who inherit wealth look at things differently than those who earn it. For that reason alone, I would highly recommend this book.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - We Are Clark Kent

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Corn and Oil.

Susan starts with:

You are likely thinking this is odd. Let me explain. There has been much talk in the last couple of weeks about the new documentary concerning public school education called: Waiting for Superman. It’s a story that pulls hard at your heart in following 5 children and their educational realities. I suspect that like me, many homeschoolers following this issue want to shout: Just homeschool.

But we’re a tiny minority compared to the millions and millions who are part of the public school community. What we live and learn every day is hard to explain unless you’re doing it. To much of our society, we could be that incognito, even nerdy sort of fellow with the glasses, known as Clark Kent. But we go against societal norms valuing that time where our children often feel like a Superman or Wonder Woman.

Fly on over and see the many ways you are like a Superman or Wonder Woman.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why do people fear light?

Paul Jacobs writes daily columns on Common Sense.

Last month he wrote about The Bad Lesson. The Los Angelos Times published data on how well public schools and teachers were doing in educating their students. The unions got upset.

They were upset that the data was published.

Why do people object to relevant data being made public? Given that we are paying taxes for these government schools I think we have a right to the information.

Paul Jacobs conludes with a call out to homeschoolers:

"Is there any way to bypass the dilapidated and authoritarian educational regime altogether? You homeschoolers out there: Any ideas?"

Homeschoolers are showing by example that children can be taught outside government schools.

Great news - we may have less spam

Bredolab botnet shut down starts with:

"The Dutch National Crime Squad has announced a major takedown. The people behind the botnet have not been caught, but the servers (hosted in LeaseWeb IP space) have been taken over, effectively shutting down the botnet."

This botnet controled over 30 million infected computers.

Just amazing.

(Hat tip: Hacker News)

Book Review: The Domino Pattern by Timothy Zahn

I have long enjoyed stories by Timothy Zahn. My favorite Zahn is a short story called “Pawn’s Gambit.” I have read his Cobra series and the Blackcollar series. Exercising some sefl control I have not jumped into the Star Wars novels, and so I never got into his Star Wars books.

Recently I was browsing at the library in the new books section and came across a new Zahn book, The Domino Pattern. This is the forth book in another series. I had not read the other three.

The Domino Pattern is a murder mystery set on a train between stars. Our hero and his sidekick are humans struggling to survive in a hostile galaxy. Frank Compton, the hero, tries to figure who killed an alien, and why was the alien killed. Frank is also struggling with forces from highly antagonistic aliens who want to conquer the galaxy.

The solution is not the same, but I was frequently reminded of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express.

This is a pleasant book. I had trouble putting it down. It was captivating and satisfying. The conclusion was good. (Too often the solution for a murder mystery is weak.) I’ll keep my eye out for more books in the Quadrail series.

I think this is especially true of politics

From Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

Don't ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.
-G. K. Chesterton

There is a great rush by many politicans to pass new laws and get rid of old laws, without having any real understanding of what the changes will have on society.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I have recently joined the ClepForHomeschool mailing list

Our oldest daughter will probably go off to college in two years. We've started thinking more about college and how to be prepared.

In response to a request for advice on scholarships and grants, Fatcat suggested checking out the Yahoo! mailing list ClepForHomeschool. I checked it out and decided to join. It looks like it is going to be worthwhilel.

If you have a child who wants to save some money and get a jump on college, have them look into taking some CLEP tests.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Another call to close government schools

My father sent me a link to Salt on the Ruins. The author L. Neil Smith is calling for government schools to be closed.

To give you a sample, here is one paragraph:

The only phenomenon more astonishing than that is the way the public school system manages to kick, stomp, and crush a child's inherent curiosity and love of learning, often destroying it altogether by the third or fourth grade. Yes, children are learning machines. The fact that government schools have managed to condition them against learning is an astonishing—if wholly negative—feat, achieved at the unspeakable cost of countless hundreds of billions of dollars.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My pick for video of the week: Thoughts on education from Sir Ken Robinson

Janine and I really enjoyed Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk about education and creativity.

I was excited to find Sir Ken Robinson had recently given another talk on education and creativity. A version of the highlights with animation takes eleven minutes:

This is very powerful. The video has only been up for eight days and already has almost 400,000 views.

Sir Ken Robinson has some strong words against ADHD. For example he says "We are getting our children through education by anaesthetizing them." He shows a picture of the incident of ADHD in the United States and makes an interesting observation: "ADHD increases as you travel East across the country." (Check at about 5:10 in the video.)

In addressing how the current public school system is modeled after 18th century factors he says school seem to think that "The most important thing about children is the date of manufacture."

Sir Ken Robinson makes many, many good points. A major theme through out his speech is that one of the fundamental problems with government schools is the basic approach, how it is based on a factor model of treating children like raw material that needs to be turned into finished problems.

However, Sir Ken Robinson seems to believe public schools can be "fixed." For decades thousands of people have tried to reform and improve public schools and they have only gotten worse. I don't have faith that public schools can be fixed, without some major changes like getting rid of the involvement of the Federal government and having true vouchers with no strings attached.

His full speech was almost an hour.

I watched it. He makes a few additional points in this video. If you have the time, it is worth watching.

Note that while the long speech has been up since February of 2010, it only has 18,000 hits. The animation of the first video makes it much more powerful. If you plan to make a point you might consider trying to do more than just talk and show a few slides.

If you are interested in more about Sir Ken Robinson's thoughts you might check out his books Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative or The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.

Book review: Super Study skills

I read Super Study Skills by Laurie Rozakis a couple years ago, wrote up a review, but never posted it. Just this morning I came across the review:


This is a well written book on how to do better on tests and in school. The target audience is from about 6th grade to 10th grade.

The book starts off with some general thoughts about studying, setting up a study area, finding good study buddies, taking notes and improving your memory.

Almost a third of the book was about how to read better. Since reading is such an important part of studying, and how to get the most out of reading isn't typically taught in school, this may be the most important section. This covers in condensed form much of the same ideas Mortimer Adler covers in "How to Read a book." "Super Study Skills" talks about different types of reading, how to be an active reader, picking a purpose for reading, how to skim, and many other good basics for teaching children how to read better.

The next section was about how to prepare for taking a test. After this there were about 20 pages on how to take a test, from things like how to choose a seat, to picking which questions to answer first, thoughts about guessing, time issues, and many, many more. It was very comprehensive. The last section was on more specific test taking techniques.

This would be a good book to get for a ten to twelve year old child. They could read it about every six months and greatly benefit. For $8 the paperback edition is a great deal.


In case you've missed how much I like How to Read a Book, you can check out my review.

Key point about value of homeschooling

This is one of the reasons homeschooling is so powerful:

"This isn't rocket science, kids don't resist learning, they resist schooling."

Diane Flynn Keith

Another good thought about the importance of balance

Much of life is finding a good balance.

Being busy is one of the areas we need to find balance:

"The really idle man goes nowhere. The perpetually busy man does not get much further."
- Heneage Ogilvie

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cool: How Stonehenge might have been built

In The Forgotten Technology Wallace Wallington shows how ancient mouments might have been built. Pretty impressive:

Sometimes a simple solution works just fine.

Free language lessons over the internet

Awhile back someone left a comment on our blog from VisualLinkLanguages.

I checked out their web site. They provide language lessons over the internet. They teach Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian, Japanese and Chinese.

They have a great tag line: "Saving the World One Language at a Time."

I asked my oldest daughter to check out some of their Spanish pages. She wrote:

"This online language service is fun and easy to use. With the youtube videos and the vocabulary in the same place, it’s simple to do lessons. Not really all that different from other programs."

The provide free language lessons, and they have another level of service for a fee. If your children are learning a language you might have them check out VisualLinkLanguages.

Good thought on friends

From Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

A loyal friend laughs at your jokes
when they're not so good, and
sympathizes with your problems
when they're not so bad.

-Arnold H. Glasow

I am a lucky man. I have many loyal friends.

I found a few other Arnold H. Glasow quotes. I especially like this one:

One of the true tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.

-Arnold H. Glasow

Some thoughts on why higher education is so expensive

The Real Cost Equation is a column about what higher education climbs faster than inflation. This is an issue I have often written about.

The authors, Robert B. Archibald and David H. Feldman, provide a good summary of what many perceive as the causes of rapidly climbing college tuition. They have recently written a book on this subject called Why Does College Cost So Much?

While I admire their summary of the problems associated with tuition inflation, the second part of their column fell flat for me. Basically they claim that there really isn't much we can do about this problem. I find it fascinating the many people take them to task for this conclusion in the comments.

(Hat tip: Instpundit)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cool: Building your own Ice Wall

From 17 October 2004 to 6 January 2005 a group up in Alaska built their own Ice Wall.

Pretty cool.

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

Don't forget to send in your submission to the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at Corn and Oil.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

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

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Visual Thesaurus - cool idea, too expensive

Visual Thesaurus is a cool idea, but $2.99 a month is more than I want to pay. You can try it out and see if how it works.

The service seems simple enough that maybe they can consider having a little advertising and going for free. I'm sure they'd get a lot more traffic.

Humor: True story

My brother-in-law’s friend recently lost his father. As executor of the will the friend was dealing with all the financial matters. He called a credit card company to let them know the father’s bill was going to be paid, thought it would be a bit late because his father had died. The lady on the phone on the phone was very insistent that it be paid right then. The friend said it would be paid, but that it would be a couple weeks. The lady said if it was late it would ruin his father’s credit rating.

A classic: The Parable of the Two Programmers

If you have any connection with the high tech world, you will probably enjoy: The Parable of the Two Programmers.

I think I am getting old

From A.Word.A.Day:

When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.
-Abraham Joshua Heschel, theology professor (1907-1972)

This reminds me of a line Jimmy Stewart says in Harvey:

"Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" -- she always called me Elwood -- "In this world, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. And you may quote me."

More and more I'm seeing the value of being kind and pleasant.

The Homeschool Showcase is up

This week's Homeschool Showcase is up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Celebrity Birthday Edition

Gary is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at

Drop by and see who has a birthday on the 19th of October, and what homeschool bloggers are writing about these days.

Carnival of Homeschooling

A fun way to teach science

Liz - The Kitchen Pantry Scientist has a video showing how children can learn about surface tension with Tie-Dye Milk:

(Hat tip: MiaZagora's Homeschool Minutes)

Art Robinson - A homeschooler running for Congress

Art Robinson and his wife were homeschooling their children when his wife died in 1988. Art wanted to continue homeschooling his children, but he also needed to keep his job. He came up with an approach to homeschooling where he would spend an hour with his children in the morning reviewing their math. They had to write a page a day. He would review their writing, correct it and have them re-write it. And then they could read while he was at work. His work was close to home, I think maybe even in walking distance. All of his children have done very well at college.

His family came up with the Robinson Self-Teaching Curriculum. My father bought it for us when we first got started. We've used parts of it and found the approach pretty reasonable.

Now Art is running for Congress! Ignored race a harbinger of Dem doom? is an article about how Art is doing surprisingly well. He may even win this November.

The importance of planning

From Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

The plan may be useless, but the planning process is invaluable.

-Dwight D. Eisenhower
As quoted in "Disaster Recovery Journal" Spring 2003

Helmuth von Moltke the Elder said that "No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy's main strength." Or more concisely: "No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy."

Both President Eisenhower and Helmuth recognize that you can't follow plans blindly. There is value in the thought that goes into making the plans, but then you have to be flexible when the situation goes in ways you didn't anticipate.

This is true for war, and for life in general.

It is important to think about how you want to raise your children, be involved with your community, support your church, pursue your career and so on. By thinking about these issues, you will make better decisions, but then you have to be flexible when life doesn't go exactly as you had expected.

A scary trend

With Halloween just around the corner, here is a scary trend: 85% of College Grads Move Back Into Their Parents' Home.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Monday, October 18, 2010

DC Voucher recipients have a 91% graduation rate versus 49% for DC public schools

In the article by Heritage Media Matters Tries but Fails to Refute the School Choice Evidence they show the effect of the DC voucher program. It sure seems like a voucher system would vastly improve education, but it gets fought every step of the way, and kids suffer for it. One of the things I found interesting was in the study, people who applied for the voucher, but didn't get it, had a 70% graduation rate. The reason seems to be that only parents actively involved in their child's education applied for the voucher, so parental involvement yields a 40% higher graduation rate. On one hand this is good, active parents can help counter-act the failings of public schools. But to focus on this misses the other hand, that their graduation rate was still more than 20% lower than the kids who used the voucher and went to private school. Evidently parental involvement can't totally overcome bad schools, bad teachers, bad environments.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Humor: The bride will never forget her wedding reception

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the groom writes:

"My surprise for my wife Vanessa on our wedding day. All of Vanessa's close friends and family rehearsed for a month in secret, leading up to the reception. What we lack in polish, we hopefully make up for in joy and love. In any event, everyone in this video has one thing in common: We'd do anything to show Vanessa how much we love her."


(Hat tip: Fortitudine Vincimus)

The Forgotten Man - Jon McNaughton

A good friend sent us a link to this video:

Pretty powerful.

Janey Cutler - this year's Susan Boyle

My mom sent me a link to Janey Cutler, a recent contestant in Britain's Got Talent. Listen to her sing:

Janey is an 80 year old lady from Glasgow, Scotland. She is mother of 7, grandmother of 13 and great grandmother of 4.

And she took a risk and tried something new.

If fear is holding you back from trying something new, if you feel too old or if you are scared, take a deep breath and go give it a try.

No regrets!

Humor: Why Teachers Drink

This is a collection of student's answers to simple questions.

Here are two of my favorites:

Q: Name one measure which can be put into place to avoid river flooding in times of extensive rainfall (e.g. in Mississippi)
A: Flooding in areas such as the mississipi may be avoid by place a number of big dames into the river.

Q: Name six animals which live specifically in the Arctic.
A: Two polar bears, Three Four seals

Go check out the rest. (But be sure to be some place where you won't bother people when you start laughing.)

A nice little bit of history on Bill Mauldin

My mother sent me a nice tribute about Bill Mauldin (1921 to 2003).

I've done a little Google searching and found a copy of the tribute to Bill Mauldin here. Bill was a World War II grunt who drew cartoons, many of the cartoons were about Willie & Joe. The tribute is a good reminder of what average men in the army went through in World War II.

Here are a sample of his work.

Blogs on starting up a business

This post is partly to add more to my extended memory.

I have a good friend who has been involved with several startups. He was the CEO of a small startup that just got bought out. He mentioned some story he had read on a startup blog he followed. I ask if he had any recommendations and he sent me this list of startup blogs: (ex-CEO of LoudCloud, now a VC) (ex-CEO) (ex-CEO of RegOnline) (Famous CEO coach and author) (ex-CEO, now a VC) (CEO of a small company) (CEO of a small company) (CEO of a 250-person company) (CEO of a 1-person company) (ex-CEO) (CEO of a growing company) (ex-CEO, one of my favorites)

I would love to follow these. Maybe "some day" I'll have the time.

We almost forgot to file our R4

Last night, around 10:30 pm as we were getting into bed, Henry asked me if I had filed our R4 (Private School Affidavit). Theoretically, we should file between October 1st and October 15th. The answer was "no." So, I dutifully got out of bed and filed. I was surprised to see that our confirmation number was almost 98,000.

I wonder how many of those 98,000 "private schools" are homeschool families.

This website lists the commercials schools by county. Coming up with a definitive number of private schools gets a bit complicated since high schools and grade schools are listed separately. A school which offers K-12 would be listed twice.

On this list, there were almost 1300 private high schools in California. It is probably safe to say that there are less than 30,000 private schools total. (I'm didn't take the time to compare the two lists to come up with an exact number).

I found another resource at here. This is a list of all the private schools which filed R4's in California with more than 6 students. Some of those are homeschoolers with large families. (For example, I see the registration for my friend with 6 children). This list had about 3300 private schools.

I guessing that we have about 70, 000+ registered homeschools in California.

Of course, not all homeschoolers file an R4 and not all those we file an R4 will continue to homeschool the entire academic year. (I've had a number of friends file an R4, try to homeschool and give up a few weeks are months later.)

Still, I was rather impressed by the number.

Friday, October 15, 2010

This is cool - I want one

Thin Displays as Wristbands reports the

The U.S. Army is testing a prototype "watch" that's lightweight and thin and has a full-color display. This display is built on flexible materials encased in a rugged plastic case and can be worn on a wristband to display streaming video and other information. It uses newly developed phosphorescent materials that are efficient at converting electricity into red, blue, and green light, which means the display needs less power to work.

The article has a picture. It looks cool. I wonder how soon before they will be available commercially.

I love this thought

From Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

We can often do more for others
by trying to correct our own faults
than by trying to correct theirs.

-Francis Fenelon

Jay Mathews on Ivy Envy

Jay Mathews argues that the "elite" colleges don't provide a better education. His column New film shows folly of Ivy envy starts with:

This time of year, with high school seniors slogging through one college application after another, and parents jittery about their children’s futures, I often write columns explaining why it doesn’t matter where they go to school.

The invariable reaction from many readers, and some of my friends, is that I went to Harvard, so what do I know about their problem?

It is true that I am a Harvard grad . I wrote a book titled “Harvard Schmarvard” that argues that the Ivy League, and other top-ranked colleges, add no discernible value to the lives of their graduates. They are good at attracting students with character strengths, such as persistence and humor, that lead to success. But applicants with such qualities who decide instead to attend places like Boise State do as well in life as those who attend colleges older than the country.

He claims that the recent movie "The Social Network" proves his point. Read the rest of the column for how his justifies his claim.

We've never seriously consider sending our children to the "elite" colleges. Janine and I don't care about the social standing that comes from having a child at Harvard. And the cost is way too much.

It is nice to read columns like Jay's which reassure us our children won't be missing out.

(Hat tip: Instpundit)

Not cheerful news

Judy Arons summaries 11 Long-Term Trends That Are Absolutely Destroying The U.S. Economy.

I think trends 4, 5 & 6 worry me the most.

Should all student go to college?

George Leef reports that College Doesn’t Always Pay Off:

The American Enterprise Institute recently published a new study entitled “Is College Worth the Investment?"

The answer is that for many students, the answer is no. Looking at salary data for a wide array of schools, author Mark Schneider finds that graduates of many schools have earnings that don’t justify the cost of borrowing, even at federally subsidized rates.

The study supports the argument I’ve been making for years: We have a glut of people with college credentials working in low-paying jobs, either because they don’t have much in the way or marketable skills or because there simply aren’t enough “good jobs” to go around.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Would you like Weird Al for your teacher?

We enjoy many of Weird Al Yankovic's songs. Janine and I love White and Nerdy. Baby Bop thinks Eat It is great. My oldest likes The Saga Begins.

Did you know he is also doing his bit to improve language in America? Here is the Grammar Lesson:

(Hat tip: Apollos Academy)

At one level this is great news

Scientists suggest that cancer is purely man-made says that studies reveal that ancient man doesn't appear to have had cancer. The article starts with:

Cancer is a modern, man-made disease caused by environmental factors such as pollution and diet, a study by University of Manchester scientists has strongly suggested.

The scientists looked an ancient mummies and references in literature and came to the conclusion that once we understand cancer we should be able to prevent it. Now we just need to figure out what the environmental factors are that cause cancer.

Did you know about the Unschooling Channel?

Pat Farenga is interviewed for The Unschooling Channel. Pat explains:

Dr. Carlo Ricci, an education professor at Nipissing University in Canada and the founder of the Journal of Unschooling and Alternative Learning, interviewed myself, John Gatto, and many other speakers at the Alternative Education Resource Organization conference in June, 2010. He asked us all the same questions about unschooling and the variety of responses is interesting. You can view my interview below; to view the others, and I urge you to do so, visit Dr. Ricci's Unschooling Channel on YouTube.

Here is the interview:

Don't tell my children this

There is some truth to this (From A.Word.A.Day)

A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.
-Victor Hugo, novelist and dramatist (1802-1885)

Normally when my daughters have spare moments they are reading a book. They've started reading The Thirteenth Reality series. And just yesterday Rick Riordan's new book The Lost Hero arrived from Amazon, and two of my daughters have finished it already.

Baby Bop doesn't believe in being idle. At four now he some times just can't sit still. We were playing the simplied version of Life a couple days ago. (We spin and move the cars around.) He would spin, climb up on the couch, then climb back down, move his car, and climb back up. He wanted to play, but it was like his body couldn't stay still.

Scholarships for homeschoolers - the website

HomeschoolBytes reports:

Homeschoolers may be welcomed regularly into most of the nation’s colleges and universities, but the scholarship application process still favors traditional students. It can be hard to fill out the required fields and qualify for scholarships if you have an unconventional education.

Here’s a great new resource to help fill this need:

David Craft and his family just launched a much needed Homeschool Scholarship website. Upon seeing a great need, they decided to offer a homeschool scholarship through their own small business and are challenging others to give what they can to support the next generation. If you’re looking for scholarships or are a business or charitable person who would like to sponsor a college-bound homeschooler, check them out and spread the word.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It is OK to let your children fail

Meredith Turney makes a good point in Immunized against Failure. She argues that one of the reasons why the United States has done well is because as Glenn Beck says: “The American experiment was about freedom. Freedom to be stupid, freedom to fail, freedom to succeed.” Our country has grown faster than others because by with freedom we have been able to make more mistakes, we have learned from them, and thus been able to do better.

This point also applies to parenting. As parents it is rough to see our children suffer. We try to protect them from failure, because we don't want our children to cry or be hurt.

But if our children are never allowed to fail, then they won't learn as much. It is a balance, we can't allow our children to make major mistakes like drink poison or play in the freeway, but we should let our children try out for a play, mess up on the soccer feel, be challenged by hard topics and so on.

It really is OK to let your children fail.

Be careful with your smart phone

Smart phones easily invaded, researchers find is a good article about the vulnerabilities of the newest cell phones.

If you have a recent cell phone, be careful, it appears to be fairly easy for a determined criminal to cause all kinds of trouble. Be careful about what apps you load onto your phone and what data you leave on your phone.

Is this true for your conversations?

From Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

Don't knock the weather;
nine-tenths of the people
couldn't start a conversation
if it didn't change once in a while.

-Kin Hubbard

Check out some other fun Kin Hubbard quotes.


Everybody passes is about how teachers can't flunk students. Joane Jacobs writes:

Elementary students don’t know that school policy bans retention. Some will work harder to make sure they’re promoted. But they’re going to figure it out next year when Jordan shows up in sixth grade. Lesson: Showing up and doing the work doesn’t matter.

A high school teacher was amazed and appalled to learn that everybody passes in elementary school. It did explain why her high school students were so surprised when they had to repeat a class they’d failed.

An important point is made in that while trying to be kind to children and not hurt their feelings, in the long run it does a disserve to the children, because after floating a long several years and getting more and more lost eventually the children drop out completely. If a student was to repeate fifth grade, finally figure out the material they would be more likely to graduate from high school.

How Technology Changed American Politics in the Internet Age

How Technology Changed American Politics in the Internet Age is a nice summary of how technology has affected the way politics works in America over the last ten years.

The article starts with:

The 2008 U.S. presidential campaign drew the attention of the world. In the aftermath, the Obama campaign's use of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were widely credited with helping secure the historic victory of President Barack Obama.

But the Obama campaign wouldn't have been able to make its technological strides without the innovations first deployed by the Howard Dean campaign years before; and, in turn, the designers of the Dean campaign made sure to study the technology lessons of Jessie Ventura's successful gubernatorial run.

The dawn of the Internet era and introduction of technologies such as email lists and social media have had a remarkable impact on American politics. Below are some highlights, game-changing moments, and other uses of technology that stand as significant moments in political history.

How to pull out a tooth with a rocket...

My father noticed on Spaceports a video on to How to pull out a tooth with a rocket...

This isn't something I would have ever suggested to my daughters, but maybe in a couple years when Baby Bop starts losing his teeth I'll ask him if he is interested. My father might be willing to help set it up.

From Peru - the CM Blog Carnival

Amy from Peru hosted the recent Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival at her Fisher Academy International blog.

Reminder for California Homeschoolers

The California Private School Affidavit's (PSA) need to be filed by October 15, tomorrow.

Here's the government web page.

Here's the HomeSchool Association of California's instructions for the form.

Humor - Waking Up is Hard to Do

My mother sent the family a link to these Singing Anesthesiologists:

Pretty fun.

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

Don't forget to send in your submission to the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Interesting thought

From A.Word.A.Day:

The game of life is the game of boomerangs. Our thoughts, deeds and words return to us sooner or later with astounding accuracy.
-Florence Scovel Shinn, writer, artist and teacher (1871-1940)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Humor: Star Wars dance off

My oldest daughter was laughing pretty loud. I asked her what tickled her funny bone. She send me the links to these two videos:

Dance Off with the Star Wars Stars 2008:

and Dance Off with the Star Wars Stars 2010:

Darth Vader doesn't seem so scary now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Anyone tried to haggle over college tuition?

Don't Pay Sticker Price for College is an interesting post about how universities may dramatically lower their tuition if they want you.

Has anyone been successful in dramtically lowering the tuition for one of their children? Any tips?

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

In some ways this may be a good thing

Soon after Janine and I got married I bought the first Civilization game. It was a fun, challenging game. It really pushed the envelope for turn based strategy games. I have an addictive personality and could spend hours playing the game. At times I would binge and play way too much. When things got bad I'd hand the CD to Janine and take a break for a couple months.

I went through a similar sequence with Civlization II and Civilization IV. They were also fun and challenging. My daughters started playing them, for they are educational. :-) I'd binge at times. Again I would have Janine hide the CDs then take a break for a couple months.

I've been looking forward to the next installation in the series of Civilization games: Civilization 5! The game came out a couple weeks ago. My plan had been to buy it and wait until the Christmas break to bing for awhile.

Some of the first comments about the game were positive. But then I read posts at Sulla's Civ5 Page. He walks his readers through several games he played, along with his analysis. His conclusion is the game isn't playable yet. I have a lot of respect for Sulla. He play tested pre-release versions of Civ4 and helped improve the game. I greatly enjoyed his introduction. He also shared how he played several games.

So for now I'm going to hold off. I expect there will be a patch or a major upgrade down the road. If it looks good, I'll buy it then.

But for now I'm sure Janine is happy that I won't be buying the latest Civilization game. And that is a good thing.

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at SmallWorld.

The carnival starts with:

Welcome to the October 12 edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling! I know I'm not alone in calling autumn my favorite season, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to share some of the beauty here in the Smoky Mountains while showcasing some fantastic posts from around the homeschooling world.

The pictures are beautiful.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Book review: Across Realtime

Vernor Vinge is one of my favorite Science Fiction authors. With amazing skill he builds consistent and fascinating worlds to weave stories of the future. Vernor Vinge has a strong libertarian bent. My only complaint is he doesn’t write enough. I wish he wrote more.

Across Realtime is a book with two stories. (The Peace War and Marooned In Realtime) Both of these stories revolve around a concept of “Bubbles.” At first people believed the bubbles were force fields and those inside would die after the oxygen ran out. Later they discovered the bubbles were stasis fields, basically frozen in time. Once the bubbles popped, the people would continue on with their lives.

Around our time scientists at Livermore Labs created the technology to “bubble” people and objects. A group of people used bubbles to encase armies and quickly ruled the world. The Peace War takes place fifty years in the future. A revolutionary group tries to revolt. Vernor Vinge explores what fifty years of rapid growth in computer technology might be like.

One of the heroes of the story is a science from Livermore Labs who tries to stop the bubbles from being used to conquer the world. He finds a young boy who is a greater genius. Together they lead the revolution. There is a lot of intrigue as the “Peacers” want to keep their power and stop the revolt.

Marooned In Realtime takes place in the same universe, but millions of years in the future. The singularity occurred and most of humanity has moved on. Those in bubbles during the singularity missed out. Some of these few humans want to restart the human race and are trying to gather a critical mass. Wil is the main character of the story. He is a detective who is trying to find the person who bubbled him and made Wil miss watching his children grow up.

Both of these stories are complex. There are lots of details making the stories seem real. Vernor Vinge put a lot of thought into what it means to have bubble technology.

If you like good classic science fiction, give this book a try. It rates a strong five on a scale of one to five.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Have you heard of trunk monkey?

Janine and I have been laughing at Trunk Monkey videos.

This is one of my favorites:

As a father of teenage girls this one has a certain appeal to me:

Though we might just be able to send Baby Bop.

Janine says this is one of her favorites:

There are more.

Friday, October 08, 2010

A deep thought

Think about this for a few minutes:

People in distress will sometimes prefer a problem that is familiar to a solution that is not.
-Neil Postman
Bits and Pieces
October 2010

(Hat tip: Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list)

Perception vs. Reality

Andrew J. Coulson writes in President: “We Need More Teachers.” Reality: “Yoohoo! I’m Right Over Here! Hellooo!”:

This week, President Obama called for the hiring of 10,000 new teachers to beef up math and science achievement. Meanwhile, in America, Earth, Sol-System, public school employment has grown 10 times faster than enrollment for 40 years (see chart), while achievement at the end of high school has stagnated in math and declined in science (see other chart).

Either the president is badly misinformed about our education system or he thinks that promising to hire another 10,000 teachers union members is politically advantageous–in which case he would seem to be badly misinformed about the present political climate. Or he lives in an alternate universe in which Kirk and Spock have facial hair and government monopolies are efficient. It’s hard to say.

Go check out Andrew's charts.

Resources for leaving public schools

Guilt-Free Homeschooling has a list of nice set of resources for those who are Leaving Public School.

Three tenors - the next generation

My mother sent me this link.

Pretty cool.

Baby Bop, who is no longer a baby, enjoyed listening.

My next PC will have a SSD

One of the big bottlenecks on today's computers is the hard drive. It takes time to retreive files off the spinning disk. The several second boot up time is largely waiting for the disk to start spinning and then to pull off all the code and data. Hard drives are thousands of times slower for moving data then typical memory chips.

One of my brothers has often encouraged me to get a Solid State Hard Drive or SSD. These are just memory chips that can hold data when the power is off. Computers with SSD can boot up so fast that you won't even believe it. The problem has long been that SSD is much more expensive than hard drives.

Revisiting Solid State Hard Drives looks at the current costs and benefits of SSD and Hybrid SSD. The price performance ratios are getting better and better. I think my next PC will have a SSD!

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

Don't forget to send in your submission to the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at SmallWorld.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

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

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

Just how much are teachers paid???

When first reading statements like:

In the 2000-01 school year, the average teacher made $43,250, the AFT's most recent salary survey says. By comparison, midlevel accountants earned an average of $52,664.

Many feel a sense out outrage. But comparing how much teachers make to other workers in the United States can be a bit tricky. One important factor to remember is the average American worker spends about 2000 hours a year on the job. In contrast the average teacher spends closer to 1500 hours.

When compared on an hourly basis it turns out the pay is better than many professions. In a nationaly study Michael J. Podgursky and Matthew G. Springer found that:

Generally, teachers earn more on an hourly basis than other educated professionals, including accountants, computer programmers, engineers, and architects.

I have long know the above. Depending on the situation I'll often try to gently teach people that teachers make pretty good money. But I hadn't realized the extent of their benefits.

In Just How Much Are America's Teachers Getting Paid? Business Insider reports:

The average teacher in the state of Illinois makes $61,402. Illinois teachers work around 176 days, 300 minutes, or 5 hours, per day. That's just over 35 weeks per year. On average, they make $348.88 per day, $1.16 per minute, or $69.60 per hour guaranteed. Teachers in Illinois work an average of 12 years. They can retire at age 55.

In order to find out what they really make though, you should take their pension benefits, net present value them and amortize them over their career. As of 2010, the average pension for an Illinois teacher is $43,164. It compounds annually for life at 3% per year.

Now it's time to do some math and make some assumptions. Assume that the lifespan of the teacher is no different than the average American, 78 years. If they start teaching at age 22, on average they will quit at 34. This means they will wait 21 years to collect their pension. The discount rate for the cash flows is a conservative 5%.

When you crunch all the numbers, the net present value of that pension is $290,756. Amortizing that over a twelve year career adds $24,229.64 to their average salary, making their actual salary before health benefits are added in a tidy $85,631.67, or $97.31 per hour.

Wow! I hadn't realized just what a good deal teachers were getting. The article goes out to point out that few private sector workers get anything like this kind of benefit.

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Humor: A cool radio flyer

A friend at work sent me this:

If you want to watch this radio flyer in a larger video, go here.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Where does all the money go?

As my oldest child gets closer to college, I've started worrying more about the cost of higher education. I'm in the high tech industry so for me the natural course of events is products get better and better, while getting cheaper and cheaper. For example today's new cell phones are more powerful than the personal computers I bought just a few years ago.

I've tried to understand better why college education is so very expensive.

Last year I wrote:

"I have blogged in the past about the problem of rising cost of acollege education. In a nut shell the cost of college education has climbed twice as fast as inflation for decades. It has gotten to the point that a college education is not an economic benefit for many."

Recently I came across a reference that it is worse than that, the cost of higher education has climbed three times faster than inflation.

Jay P. Greene may have part of the answer. He recently publised a report on Administrative Bloat at American Universities: The Real Reason for High Costs in Higher Education.

This is the start of the executive summary:

Enrollment at America’s leading universities has been increasing dramatically, rising nearly 15 percent between 1993 and 2007. But unlike almost every other growing industry, higher education has not become more efficient. Instead, universities now have more administrative employees and spend more on administration to educate each student. In short, universities are suffering from “administrative bloat,” expanding the resources devoted to administration significantly faster than spending on instruction, research and service.

Between 1993 and 2007, the number of full-time administrators per 100 students at America’s leading universities grew by 39 percent, while the number of employees engaged in teaching, research or service only grew by 18 percent. Inflation-adjusted spending on administration per student increased by 61 percent during the same period, while instructional spending per student rose 39 percent. Arizona State University, for example, increased the number of administrators per 100 students by 94 percent during this period while actually reducing the number of employees engaged in instruction, research and service by 2 percent. Nearly half of all full-time employees at Arizona State University are administrators.

A significant reason for the administrative bloat is that students pay only a small portion of administrative costs. The lion’s share of university resources comes from the federal and state governments, as well as private gifts and fees for non-educational services. The large and increasing rate of government subsidy for higher education facilitates administrative bloat by insulating students from the costs. Reducing government subsidies would do much to make universities more efficient.

As Mr. Spock would say: Fascinating.

We're trying to raise creative minds

I like this quote from Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list):

The uncreative mind can spot the wrong answer,
but it takes a creative mind to spot the wrong question.

-Anthony Jay
Weekly Business Writing Tips #380

Are you looking for ideas for your next homeschool co-op?

If you are looking for an idea on a fun homeschool co-op activity, Let's Play Math! has a suggestion: Alexandria Jones and the Mathematical Carnival.

The new face of advertising

Recently my mother sent the family a link to a fun video about dogs catching treats in slow motion:

The video is fun. The thing I found fascinating is it has almost three million views. This is the new face of advertising. If you create an entertaining ad the world will beat a path to your Youtube video.

Improving your financial IQ

A good friend of mine often studies the stock market and finances in his spare time. Recently I asked him what magazines, newsletters and blogs he followed. He pointed me to these two and included the comments:

The Daily Reckoning - (very conservative politically)
John Mauldin's Thoughts from the Front Line - (moderately conservative politically)

He also suggested reading:

"Chapters 8 & 20 of Benjamin Graham's The Intelligent Investor (then read as much of the book as you can handle)"

Benjamin Graham heavily influenced Warren Buffett.

Personally I like The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need by Andrew Tobias.

The 10 worse parts of homeschooling

Carolyn shares her Bottom 10 Worst Parts of Homeschooling, along with suggestions on how to cope.

Its a good list.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Along with a new baby!

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Homeschool Curriculum and Parenting Advice.

We have such a wonderful set of bloggers who take turns hosting the carnival. The host this week got up the carnival, after having a baby last week. Such dedication!

The carnival starts:

Welcome to the October 5, 2010 edition of The Carnival of Homeschooling!
Here at HomeGrownMommy, we’ve had quite the eventful week! We had the wonderful blessing of welcoming our fifth child into the world through a peaceful and perfect home birth on Monday morning, September 27th! Little Sophia weighed 9lbs 2 oz at birth and was 21 inches long. She’s just so sweet and calm; and we’re all enjoying getting to know her.


Carnival of Homeschooling

Book review: Doctor to the Stars

Doctor to the Stars is a collection of three stories by Murray Leinster. The stories are about a medical doctor who travels between planets solving problems. Calhoun, the hero, is smart and able use his knowledge of medicine to figure out what is going on and what needs to be done. The stories written in the 1950s, and so they are a little dated.

In “The Grandfathers’ War” Calhoun tries to stop the ultimate parenting problem when the parents have decided they have to go to war with their children, to save their children. With “Med Ship Man” Calhoun is able to salvage a con man’s attempt to buy land cheap when the con man almost destroys a colony. Tallien Three is a bit of a horror story where humans seem to be turning into a creature like a zombie.

The stories are pleasant and well told. They move along and are entertaining. They aren’t great, but I enjoyed them. If you want to enjoy average good science fiction from the 1950s, then check out “Doctor to the Stars.” I give it a 3 on a scale of 1 to 5.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Book review: First Lensman

First Lensman by E.E. "Doc" Smith is another favorite book I recently bought from Fantastic Collectibles.

The Lensmen Series is one of Science Fiction's great classics. It has everything. The story arch spans billions of years and travels across two galaxies. There are great space battles and secret spy intrigue. This is the ultimate battle between good and evil.

"First Lensman" is the second story in the series. Here we watch our planet explode onto the Galactic scene, barely surviving as hostile aliens try to Civilization. The Lens are a tool created by the Arisians to help Civilization. Virgil Samms is the first individual to receive a Lens. We watch as he struggles to protect our earth from politicians and pirates. He travels to Arisia where he is given a Lens. This gives him enough power to save Civilization, for now.

This books ratchets up the roller coaster ride that continues through out the rest of the Lensman series. Each book expands in scope, with bigger space battles and badder aliens. Yet in book our heroes are able, sometimes barely able, to destroy the bad guys.

If you enjoy Science Fiction and have never read the Lensmen series, start with Triplanetary and then read First Lensman. You are in for a great ride.

A book review of The Tipping Point - by one of my daughters

I'm cleaning up some old email and came across a book review my oldest daughter did of The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. This was part of our summer reading program.

Here is the review:

The book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is about at which point a force becomes unstoppable. There are three rules dictating this: The Law of the Few, The Stickiness Factor, and The Power of Context.

The Law of the Few is about the types of people that can start these epidemics, Gladwell’s word for this unstoppable force. The first type of person is called a Connecters. Connecters are the type of person that link everybody together. The next type is labeled Maven. Maven are information specialists and they enjoy helping others with this information. The last type of person is called Salesmen. They are what ‘sells’ the epidemics.

The Stickiness Factor is whatever happens to make the epidemic-to-be so memorable. One example, Sesame Street, the monsters were what the children paid extra close attention to.

The Power of Context tells of how people environment affects their behavior. The main example in the book is of New York. When the police force adopted a zero tolerance attitude to minor crimes the drop off of major crimes was considerable.

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell is a very interesting book about epidemics.


Here are some of my thoughts about the book.

If you haven't read it, give it a try. I think it is very worthwhile.

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

Don't forget to send in your submission to the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at Homeschool Curriculum and Parenting Advice.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

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

Carnival of Homeschooling

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

A good step in the right direction

I heard that the average child in America gets something like ten criticisms for every compliment.

This would be a step in the right direction:

We should be as quick to compliment as we are to criticize.
-Mitchell Pl Ejnik

(Hat tip: Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list)

One of our favorite parenting books is The Power of Positive Parenting. Glenn Lathem's main point is parents are much more effective if we reward good behavior, than if we try to stop bad behavior.

Nice article on homeschooling has a nice article on homeschooling: Home-schooling parents turn to blogs, Facebook for help.

Several homeschooler bloggers are quoted:

Carolyn Morrison - Guilt Free Home Schooling
Melissa Wiley
Shannon Entin