A Quote to Start Things Off

Somebody told me there was no such thing as truth. I said if that's the case then why should I believe you" -Lecrae - Gravity

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Pictures of Memories I

Pictures of Memories I
Snow kidding! These "kids" now range from 17 to 23

Monday, March 28, 2011

Postlee Sobranya

Amy is off school for the week which gives her the opportunity to post observations like this . . . When Dave was in Russia, back in 1992, he used to send me tapes of himself talking. He would also tape other people around him. He was working hard, learning the language, and he would often practice his Russian on me. I used to listen to the cassettes several times while driving in the car. So, there are still several Russian phrases that pop into my consciousness from time to time. Postlee sobranya is one of them. Not that it's spelled correctly, mind you. But it means, "after meeting." Dave was talking to his friends in church about going sledding with some of the youth, and the person said, "postlee sobranya." So, every once in a while, I'll just say, to whomever is listening, "postlee sobranya." It happens with other phrases as well, and in other languages. I took French in high school and college. Then, as a senior in college, I badly needed an EASY class, as I was QUITE burned out. I took Spanish. BIG mistake. HUGE. (Name the movie I'm quoting here.) Funny thing, Spanish and French are similar...I get them mixed up, a lot! But every once in a while, I remember how to say the "Hail Mary" in French, and the other day at work, I sat through an entire parent meeting in Spanish, and I knew what they were saying, for the most part. I should use this affinity for languages for good...but usually I just fling random foreign words around for anyone who's around. And the response I get, "huh?" doesn't seem to stop me. See you later, or, as I like to say, postlee sobranya.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I usually don't fall for stuff like this . . .

Fragment 1:

I have worked 2 jobs in the past 10 years where at least part of my job was being aware of fraud and fraudulent behavior. So when I received an e-mail today from UPS that said my package was coming and just to open an attachment to get the tracking #, I should have known better.

But for whatever reason I opened the attachment because from time to time I do have packages sent to me for products I am reviewing or free trials I see advertised. However, I should have noticed I was not addressed by name, nor was there any indication of my real address or anything like that.

Bottom Line: this was a malware scheme. The moment I opened the e-mail attachment my security system zapped it from here to Feliz Navidad. However, things could have been a lot worse. If you ever get an e-mail asking you to do anything even just open an attachment don't do it. The best thing to do before even opening a suspicious e-mail is google the subject. If I would have simply googled United Parcel Service Notification E-mail, I would have soon found out it was a scam and not even have to trust my security program to protect me.

Fragment 2: What do you get the Dad/Grandpa who has and/or gives away everything?

My Dad is a hard person to buy for. I have talked in these pages before about how his goal in life is to de-clutter by giving all his junk to his kids. On Monday I realized my Dad was coming over to fix things at my house the next day and the day after that was His birthday. I decided that the best thing to dp was throw him an impromptu surprise party. Bunny made a cake (Puppy and Spider Droid helped.) My Dad showed up slighltly after the cake came out of the oven so we moved it to the desk in my room where Bunny frosted it once it had cooled. I would go in there from time to time to check on Bunnies "Math".

On Tuesday night I saw that the first 100 primes were still written on a dry erase board from our history unit on Pythagoras. This gave me an idea. I rewrote the primes and stopped at 73 which is how old my Dad was. I then draped my Sox Throw (No it is not a 1919 reference) over the dry erase board.

After the cake was frosted. I took my Dad out to the shed to ask him some question. This of course was a ruse so Spider Droid could remove the throw revealing this . . .

Bunny and Puppy brought out the cake and we had a celebration.

Fragment 3: Rainbow connection on C.D.

Today, Puppy went in her room and saw a rainbow on her wall.

The sun was shining through the Window reflected on a c.d. on a bookshelf and the rainbow was visible on the ceiling.

Fragment 4: Crazy Video.

On Tuesday, I was helping Spider Droid make a power point presentation. I kind of went stir crazy and made this video . . .

Well that's all the fragments for today. click here to head back to Half Past Kissing Time.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

They don't get Giving (up).

Another Wednesday, another Lenten observation.

Last Saturday it became abundantly clear to me that we were watching too much t.v. in the house. When I say watching t.v what I mean is watching videos and DVDs on our t.v and watching Internet shows on Hulu and other outlets and watching d.v.ds on the computer. We have not had the ability to watch broadcast t.v. since 2005. I also need to back up the truck and say that for the past month or so our television has not worked so when I said watching too much t.v. I meant watching too much computer. Whatever you call it we were all watching too much of it. On Saturday Puppy was going absolutely crazy as I was setting up a show for her. The girl had addict written all over her. She wasn't the only one. It seemed like all we did was have shows on. It became clear to me that something had to give

On our way out the door to a myriad of activities on Saturday I mentioned to Amy that starting immediately there would be no t.v. watching (or whatever it is we do.) until Friday night which is usually a family movie night for us. I had a speech already to give to kids. Amy in her wisdom, said don't tell the kids that there's no t.v. for the week. She thought that the kids would feel like they were being punished and in reality we were not taking privileges away due to bad behavior. She and I decided that of the kids asked to watch something we would just say no and suggest a different activity perhaps one that was less entertainment oriented.

This week Puppy has asked to watch a show about every 12 minutes, which is a little down for her. We just say no and move on.

The other kids have seemingly forgot about t.v. for the week. They both can earn a 1/2 hour a day with electronic media (either the computer or the d.s.) during the school day. Besides that 1/2 hour, the rest of their free time has been unplugged and they have really enjoyed each other. All 3 kids have been busy with puppet shows, playing with toys that have been long neglected and playing games like monopoly and mastermind. ALL this on a week that so far has not been fit for much if any outside free time.

Spider Droid did ask to watch a show tonight. But besides that neither one of them seems to notice they are giving up t.v. for the week. Like I said in the title, they don't get that they are giving up.

My title has a bit of a double if not triple meaning. I don't think that most people in my country get giving up. Think about it there are two times a year that we associate with giving up. One is New Years with it's new years resolutions and the other is Lent.

There are also two other reasons in our culture for doing without, conservation and the economy. But the truth is we don't need a calendar or a reason to practice giving up. We can do so at any time.

Our family likes to turn the t.v. off for the summer. It is a time with lessons over for the Summer and the family home for the summer that we can enjoy each other and the activities that a Midwest summer affords. A different time we ate only rice for a week to get an idea of how 1/2 the world lives.

Your family might have other ideas for giving things up. It might be that you cut out all extra spending so you can throw a party. Whatever you do it can help bring your family closer together and to learn something in the process.

Another way that some people don't get giving up is in not understanding the reason for giving things up.

Hosea 6:6 says:
For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. NASB

This reminds me of an anecdote from 11 or 12 years ago. Someone was telling me about how proud he was that His son and His son's girlfriend had given up on ice cream for lent. I found this particularly odd because at the time the couple was living together outside of marriage.

I tell that story not to seem judgemental but to punctuate that God wants our obedience more than our sacrifice. Giving things up doesn't make up for obvious flaws in our moral character.

Lent is an excellent time to give something up so we can start get a grasp on how much Christ gave up for us. I am just saying it should not be the only time.

P.S. watching our t.v. intake will get a little harder starting tomorrow, as my Dad fixed our t.v. and will bring it back in the morning.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Six Simple rules on How to get 50 or more comments on your post about home education.

Sandy Laurence recently did something I have not been able to do in over 2 years of blogging. On February 28th She posted this piece about what she thought were some disadvantages on home education @ Type-A-Parent. Within a fortnight she had received over 100 comments on her article.

What Ms. Laurence achieved that I have not, was to generate more than 100 comments on one post. The most comments I ever received was 40, when I was giving away 50 state quarters. That's not even a comment a quarter!

I don't want to just pound away on Ms. Laurence's piece as she is not the only blogger in the past couple of years to surpass my high water comment mark by posting about homeschooling. Sylvia Biu wrote a piece a couple of years ago called Homeschooling is a Bad Idea. To date she has received almost 60 comments about it.

So based on these and other posts about Home Education, I present:

How to get 50 or more comments on a post about Home Education.

1. Write a post about Home Education.

2. Come out against it (or at least be leery of it).

Both pieces question the effectiveness of homeschooling in their title and their first few lines. Both topped the 50 comment mark. Phillip Faustin started out well in that regard in his 2007 piece, entitled "Homeschool is Dangerous." Except Phillip really came to the defense of Home Education. The result: 0 (Count them) comments. I am not saying that all good pro home schooling pieces will garner no comments. But it has been my experience that these negative pieces get much more attention.

3. Present misinformation as fact.

Sylvia Biu says this in her second paragraph:

Homeschooling was originally thought to be a good idea, but recently it has become the subject of late-night comics. Now, it is mostly frowned upon for all but severely disabled children or those otherwise unable to attend school for whatever reason.

WOW. That's like saying that democracy used to be a good idea but isn't any more because it has become the subject of late-night comics. Then the second "fact" follows one of my favorite rules for passing on information. Say it: don't back it up. Mostly frowned upon by who? Don't know. Doesn't matter. Sylvia Biu said it, that settled it. Not likely.

4. (Very similar to #3) Start with facts and sprinkle-in falsehoods.

Here is a prime example from Ms. Laurence's concluding paragraph . . .

The vast majority of American children successfully attend public or private schools.

That starts out like a solid fact. The vast majority of American children attend public or private school. Throwing in successfully, throws the fact under a bus. I guess it depends on what you mean by successfully. If you mean anything other than they get there and back, it's not successful. Consider these quotes from the Time Magazine review or "Waiting For Superman." . .

Americans also can't afford the fantasy that we have the world's best educational system. The U.S. is near the bottom of advanced countries in math and reading scores. We may not pass sleepless nights worrying about Finland, but that country's kids get a world-class public-school education, and ours don't.

And this about film producer Davis Guggenheim . . .

What he found in his two years of researching Waiting for "Superman" (with co-producer Lesley Chilcott) was that a lot of schools aren't right for any kids.

That hardly seems like a definition of successful. But point out this or any other inconsistencies in her piece to Ms. Laurence and you get . . .

5. Defend your right to have opinions. (Even when people are questioning your facts.)

In more than one of her comments and in a subsequent post trying to clean up her previous mess, Laurence said something like this:

.. .this IS a blog. These aren’t research papers. Each article I’ve written has contained my opinions.

She was right about one thing, this is a blog. However her post contained facts, or at the very least opinions written so they looked like facts. For instance What she said about the vast majority of American children did not seem like an opinion, it seemed like she meant it as a fact. Blogs might not be the place for facts, but if you are going to use facts, use them properly. I will save any more of my opinions about opinions for an opinion piece I will be placing here soon.

Also opinions can be argued, refuted, and even refined due to the presentation of facts. I would think that the owner of opinions, especially an owner who shares those opinions on the Internet would welcome the presentation of facts to the discussion of those opinions.
6. When you do state opinions make them as preposterous as possible.

Consider Slyvia Biu who said . . .

First, unless a parent is himself a previous honor student or a genius who mastered more than just the three R’s, a child may not receive quality home education. Even if a parent earned a degree in one or more areas, it may not suffice and could limit the scope of a child’s knowledge, unless a parent excelled in other major subjects or supplements with tutors in areas in which he may be weak.

Sure it's an opinion. She says may not and could limit. But come on, really! How many public or private schools only employ teachers that are honor students or geniuses? How many of those teachers have earned a degree in more than one area? This is just an example of setting the bar higher for home educators than other educators without any reason. Her opinions were so off base that many commented just to tag her out. (Baseball reference, couldn't resist.)

So, if you want a homeschool post with more than 50 comments follow some of these simple rules and you should be just fine. Here is a bonus tip if you want to make the century mark.

Bonus Rule: Be abusive to your commenters.

Sandy Laurence had a few choice words for her commenters. Like this . . .

Well, at least I’m getting reader participation. I expected people to disagree with some of what I said, but I figured the good homeschoolers would be better at reading comprehension.

Or if that wasn't direct enough she later said this . . .

Did you really read what I said? Are you offended because you’re one of the homeschoolers I described in my post? If you’re not one of them and, instead, are doing a good job with it, I’m not talking about you. Get over yourself. And brush up on reading comprehension.

Thanks for your well-thought-out comments.

In her follow up post she tried to explain her rudeness by saying that it was because her piece was edited and she didn't realized it was edited. So she thought people were misreading her. I understand what it means to be edited for newspapers and other blogs. The first thing I do is read my piece as it appears in publication. She could have done that ,and as I tell my kids, you don't have to say (in her case type) every thought in your head.

That's all I have at the moment. If you want, you could prove me wrong by helping me get 50+ comments on this post. I think (and hope) it only follows the first rule. Feel free to pass it on to friends and neighbors because, when all is said I done, I just want more comments. Please!

Sorry, I got a little carried away there. But that doesn't mean I don't want you to comment :)

For those joining from HSBA Post click here or on the graphic tto head back to the Green Edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ereth's Birthday

Sunday's Cool

A Link Up & A Look Ahead

A Link Up: Bunny Girl read this book and enjoyed it. So I asked her to read it again and write chapter summaries for it. She has been placing those book summaries in her blog, Bookworms & Bunnies. Click here to see her first entry. clicking the title of her blog or the cover of her book will bring you to the latest entry.

A Look Ahead: My next idea has a variety of people I need to thank for. First: The good people at Why Homeschool who manage the Carnival of Homeschooling. Secondly, Life Nurturing Education, who hosted this past week's carnival. Thirdly, Arby of the Home School Apologist who wrote this very good post about culture where she referenced a post giving the same old recycled opinions why home schooling is not such a great idea, and finally for Sandy Laurence who wrote the aforementioned piece entitled Homeschool Disadvantages.

Why all this build up? Because in reading Sandy's post and the myriad of comments that followed said post, I was given material for no less than 3 future posts of my own. You know the maxim, if life gives you lemons make lemonade? Well until I read Sharon's post, there hadn't been a lemon like that since the Yugo came on the market. The pieces I have planned should be pure lemonade. The first of which, "How to get 50 or more comments on a post about Home Education" should roll out tomorrow.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

NCAA Round 2 Bracket Progress

Day 3. Dave -Winners: West Virginia, Kentucky, Cincinnati, U. Conn, Temple, San Diego State, Richmond, Pitt, Butler, Kansas State,Wisconsin, Gonzaga, BYU, Florida . Losers: Louisville points lost: 4.5, Michigan State points lost 1.

Amy - Winners: West Virginia, Kentucky, Cincinnati, U. Conn, Temple, San Diego State,Pitt, Butler. Kansas State, Wisconsin, Gonzaga, BYU, UCLA, Florida. Losers: Vanderbilt points lost 1, Louisville points lost 7.5.


Day 4. Dave- Winners: Ohio State, Marquette, Syracuse, North Carolina, Duke, Michigan, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Purdue, Fla. State, Notre Dame. Losers: Villanova points lost 1, Georgia points lost 1.

Amy - Winners: Ohio State, George Mason, Syracuse, Washington, North Carolina, Duke, Michigan, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Purdue, Notre Dame. Losers: Xavier points lost 1, University of Nevada Las Vegas points lost 1, Georgetown points lost 1, Texas A&M points lost 1.

Results after 2 rounds:

points earned

Dave: 28.5 (1.5, 27)

Amy: 27 (1,26)

Possible Remaining Points:

Dave: 91

Amy: 86.5

Friday, March 18, 2011

Six about 25 before 500

Six Word Saturday time at Show my face dot com and my six words are packed and ready to go. They're standing here outside your door. Oh, sorry about that, I was listening to John Denver on Pandora earlier.

Here's my Six:

Blogging about blogging, an acquired taste.

Amy and I have many similar interests and opinions but we don't agree on everything. That is to say, that not all of hers are correct. For example, I some times engage in what I call meta blogging. Blogging about the process of blogging or even blogging about the minutia of blogging. I think she calls it, choking the life blood out of her soul. This doesn't keep me from doing it, just from asking her to edit those pieces. I mean who wants to read a post that starts: "Anyone who still has a brain cell left please read something else!!!"?

This, is one of those pieces.

Back in 2009, when I was just a novice blogger, I noticed that the 100th post was a big to do. There were generally give-a-ways, hyperbole and a sprinkling of ballyhoo when someone would go to 3 digits on their blogometer. I was not immune to such excitement, I love celebrating milestones. I even love celebrating milestones that aren't really milestones. If I had it my way I'd commemorate each and every post. . .

We now take you to HSD behind the scenes. . .

Dave: for my 217th post I wanted to give away a tray of Lasagne. Amy wanted to know why and I said because the first time I remember eating Lasagne was July 31st and as you know 7 times 31 is 217.

Amy: That really didn't happen. But yes, He is that crazy. And yes, this is really Amy and I can prove it. Note the font, Trebuchet. Dave is allergic to Trebuchet.

We now return you to this post, in progress.

So, I noticed recently that I am chugging along on my way to 500 posts here at HSD. I have decided to commemorate the event some way for the past few weeks I have had a countdown to 500 in the left hand corner of the blog. Starting with the next post that will be replaced with an estimated date of the big event. My best estimate as of today is sometime in early May. No, I don't have ultrasounds, so this will have to do.

I am planning to celebrate # 500 with a special post. I have some ideas but have not ironed them all out yet. The rumours about me hosting Letterman are way too premature. I understand his guest correspondence is written in Trebuchet.

For more Six Word Saturday click here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Frugal Fragmental Fridays

It has been a long long long time since I posted at Frugal Fridays. There are many reasons for this. The main one being, I haven't had anything especially frugal to share. But since this is not only Frugal Friday at Life As Mom it is also Friday Fragments at Half Past Kissing Time. I thought I could get my lead fragment to be frugal. Let's see how I do.

Fragment 1: Is Groupon for the truly Frugal?

About a year ago I joined Groupon. I remember it was mid April we were visiting Amy's brothers in Madison and Spider Droid had just come back from a hike listening to the spring peepers. Spring Peepers are frogs before I start getting angry comments. I borrowed my BIL's computer and I signed up for group-on.

Since then I have been receiving regular e-mail from them about various deals. It wasn't until today that I actually used one of them. Either the deals are not something Aim (I sometimes call my wife Aim, deal with it.) and I are interested in like a wine tasting or they are not really good deals or and this is generally it we'd have to spend money we normally wouldn't to save money.

The deal I got today is a good case in point. I got an e-mail to get a ticket to a movie called The Lincoln Lawyer which opens tomorrow for $6.00. They said the ticket was a $13.00 value and yes there are movie theatres near us that have tickets in the double digits. But thanks to our local theatre having $6.50 tickets for general admission and going to the early bird shows when we do go to a different theatre we have seldom had to pay so much. The truth is that The Lincoln Lawyer is showing at our theatre this weekend and we can get early bird tickets for $4.50. Even better we have been incrementally increasing the amount of time we have been letting our oldest watch the other 2 and we should be able to go sometime during the day and give her her first 2 hour babysitting gig.

So why did I buy tickets for $6.00 for a show I can see for $4.50? Good question. The answer is I didn't. I had a $5.00 off coupon so I bought 1 ticket for $1.00. Our total movie experience will be probably less than $20.00. A dollar for the movie for me, $4.50 for Aims ticket. Another $4.50 for a kids combo (you don't have to be a kid to get it) which is popcorn and a drink with 3 refills. That puts the total at 10. We will probably give Puppy $5 for the baby sitting so the whole thing will run 15.

This brings up my point: Is groupon worth it for the frugal? Does it help you do things you would normally not do? Or does it tempt you to spend money that you normally would not? Leave a comment and let me know.

All of you visiting from Frugal Friday can go home to Mom now. Unless you want to stay for further fragment. Actually now that I think about it. Fragment 2 has a financial application as well. SO STICK AROUND!

Fragment #2: Giving it up for Lent

This is the second of my Lenten Observations segments. Have you ever lent somebody something and not gotten it back? Have you ever lent somebody something and forgot who you gave it to? Have you ever not gotten something returned and have had difficulty getting over it? I hope so, I would hate to think it was just me.

I have learned very few things wholly by other's examples or advice. Many times I have had to learn through my own experience or mistakes. When I was a teenager a friend of mine lent a friend of his (an acquaintance of mine) a sizable amount of money. He then watched week after week his friend spend money on non essentials while she kept the debt to Him unpaid. This was very frustrating for my friend. He learned an important principle any money he lent out he would consider gone for good. In fact he would not even call it lending he would just give it away if he could. I have followed his principle for almost 30 years now. I have given co-workers money and weeks later (generally when I needed it most) they would pay be back. To me it was found money.

I have found the lesson a lot harder to emulate with things. I gladly give away anything to any one who wants it. Especially my books music or movies. However if it is not returned. I don't forget about it as I do with money. Money comes and goes. But things have a kind of permanency to them. If I front $10.00 to another home school parent for a field trip, I can use a different $10.00 if the need comes up. If the parent forgets to pay me back, I can easily make do without it. I mean I can literally forget about it. But if I lend a DVD about dinosaurs to someone and then forget who. The next time I want to watch it, I can't because I no longer have it. For whatever reason I have a habit of lending things to people that are no longer readily available for purchase or now out of my price range.

Over the past few years I have been convicted to try to let go of this feeling of loss when it comes to unreturned possessions. Strangely enough I know some people who are exactly the opposite of me. They can give away possessions without any problems whatsoever but have a real hard time with unpaid debt. I have decided that this Lenten Season I would "give up" any thing I have not ever received back as lent. Yes it's a bad pun, but a good philosophy. It is more of an internal task to stop trying to remember who I gave things to and just be content with what I have. I have a few things out to people right now. Hopefully with God's help I will not think of these things as my possessions again until when and if I again possess them.

Fragment #3 Am I the only one out there who loves Detroit 1-8-7?

One of my favorite television related websites is the cancel/renew index. Each week it goes through t.v. shows by network and prognosticates what will stay and what will go. generally the shows I like the most are the ones without the staying power. When Detroit 1-8-7 came out this Fall, I thought I found a show that would be around for a long long time. A smart, funny, well filmed procedural with some excellent acting and storytelling. Yet every week, I see at the cancel/renew index that it has little to no chance of a second season. I love watching it on Hulu each week and wondered if there was anyone else who liked it.

Well those are my fragments frugal and otherwise for this Friday. For more Fragments click here.

NCAA Round 1 Bracket Progress

As I said last time Amy and I have embarked on a bracket with 100 possible points. Instead of writing down everyteam we picked here. I will just check in after the end of the round tell you where we moved and where we lost ground.

Day 1. Dave - Winners: Clemson and UNC Ashville
Amy - Winners: Clemson Losers:Arkansas Little Rock points lost .5

Day 2. Dave - Winners: University of Texas - San Antonio, Losers: Southern Cal points lost 1.5*
Day 2. Amy - Winners: Univerity if Texas - San Antonio. Losers: Southern Cal points lost .5*

Round 1 results
points earned
Dave: 1.5
Amy: 1
Possible remaining points:
Dave 98.5*
Amy 99*

*The amount of points lost can differ even when Amy and I picked the same team. This will differ when one of us picked the team to progress futher than the other. For example Amy had Southern Cal losing in the second round so she only lost the 1/2 point that USC failed to win in the first round. I on the other hand picked U.S.C to win in the second round as well so I lost the point I expecting them to earn in the second round as well as the point they failed to earn in the first.

Even though I currently have more points than Amy does she has a potential for 99 whereas my celing because of the U.S.C loss is 98.5

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Good Hair Day

Puppy has lots of hair. Okay Puppy had lots of hair.

Here is her hair in action circa last August.

Her is her hair in Action last November in melodramatic fashion

Up until today it had never been cut. Today it was cut. Why? Because Puppy heard about Locks of Love and decided that she wanted to donate her hair to be used for wigs for cancer patients. We did some research and even though Locks of Love doesn't use all the donated hair on wigs for cancer patients (They sell some of the hair to wig makers and put the money they receive towards operating costs.) we were satisfied that theirs is a worth while charity and honored puppy's request.

Here are some pics from today's festivities. . .

So long hair!

Getting ready.

Supportive siblings or voracious readers? You decide.

The hair before.

The hair after.

Her reaction to seeing her ponytail w/o her head connected to it.

A sucker for a good haircut.

Here she is sporting the new doo at the library.

Puppy is growing up. In less than 24 hours she has lost her first two baby teeth and had her official first haircut. But more importantly she is growing in understanding the needs of others. Sure she screams sometimes when she doesn't get her way. But this hair brained scheme was of her own volition. We weren't sure about the idea at first, but she was. She is even looking ahead to a year or two when her hair is long enough that she can donate again. One cool thing we did not realize is that our hair cut place cut her hair for free and mailed the hair off to Locks for Love as well.

Watching (and letting)our child give to others sure works for us. To see what works for others click here to join Works for Me Wednesday at We Are That Family.

NCAA Tournament Picks - A Precursor

I love systems. Back in the good old days when the NCAA tournament was 64 teams I had a great dare I say perfect 120 point system for scoring the NCAA tournament picks. There were 6 rounds. 32 games and winners in the first round. 16 in the second. Eight in the third. four in the fourth. Two in the semifinals and one game in the 6th round to determine the eventual champion. If you pick a team to go to the second round and they do you get 1 point if they don't zero. Pick a second round winner and you get two more points. Three for third round winners. 4 for when your team advanced to the final four. Five if they make it to the Championship game. Six more if the won it all.

So if you picked Duke to win it all last year, like I did you would net 21 points on the Blue Devils alone. I love my system because it was incremental and elegant. I loved the way the numbers broke down per round 32 possible points in round 1 32 more in round 2. Which made for 64 possible points in the opening weekend. 24 possible points in round 3 and16 more were available to the successful prognosticator in round 4 for 40 total points in the second weekend of the tournament.
In my system, many people are eliminated by the second weekend as there are only 16 points available onc you whittle the teams to four. It's how you pick the second and third round that often make you victorious among your peers.

When a few years back they expanded the field to 65, I had no real problem with it. The play-in game was scored as a1/2 point if you picked the victor. This would make for an excellent tie-breaker.

This year the field was expanded to 68 teams and instead of a tiebreaker a 7th round was added to the schedule. Using my current system it made for a rather inelegant 122 point tournament. Revamping my system to have 1 point for round 1 winners 2 point for second round winners up to 7 for the champion yielded a cumbersome 171 point total. The point distribution was very lopsided as well with 96 points in rounds 2 and 3 alone. I was going mad trying to decide between the two flawed systems and each time I would explain it to my wife, she would say you need guys!

I finally figured out a great system for scoring a 68 team single elimination tournament. At least one that has 64 teams in the second round. 1/2 point for picking a round 1 winner 1 point for a round 2 winner and 1.5 points more for making it the sweet sixteen. 2 points for picking a team who makes it all the way to the elite 8, 3 points for picking a final four team, 4 points for your team making it all the way to the championship game and 6 points for winning the whole ball of wax.

It's incremental, but not elegant and what I like best about it: The total points of the tournament now equal 100 which turns out to be elegant after all. Well at least I have a functional system until the committee messes with the number of teams again.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Selection Sunday

Sunday's Cool
A Link Up and a Look Ahead

A link up: Crazy Uncle Dave's Sport-O-Rama is my sports blog. I don't update it nearly as often as I'd like to. That may explain why today's link-up about our NCAA Brackets is over 11 months old. It is timely though as the field of 68 was just announced and the tournament starts on Tuesday. Last year Amy and I kind of split our contest. I picked Duke to win it all and they did. Amy picked Butler to win it all and they made it to the championship game. She ended up scoring more overall points than I did. Amy and I will make our picks tomorrow and I will try to post them at Sport-O-Rama prior to Tuesday's tip off.

A Look Ahead: I will try to continue with the Lenten observations I began last week. I also have a few promised posts that might come up this week. Puppy will probably say or do something crazy. So you never know what you will get. One thing I can tell you is that sometime in the next fortnight I will explain what I mean by countdown to 500 which has appeared in the upper left hand corner of this blog for the past few weeks.
Good luck making up for that lost hour and have a great week!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Of Carrots and Sticks

I promised SB 136 update so here is one. But before I do, here is what may seem like an aside.

The Brookfield Zoo of Brookfield (Go Figure!), Illinois had a program. They allowed public and private schooled children as well as home schooled children as well as their teachers/chaperone's to attend the zoo on field trips at no cost. Last Summer the field trip policy changed. Only Public and Private schools were listed as field trip eligible on the zoo's website and Home Schoolers were listed as ineligible. One exception was given on the website, stating that home educators who registered their students at the Illinois Board of Education would be able to attend field trips free of charge.

This change was not received warmly by the home school community. I remember my reaction was that since Illinois Home schools are considered by Illinois law as private school's they should already be field trip eligible and not have to do anything else. Other's saw it as a way to try to force home educators to register with the state when they were not legally obligated to do so. The reaction was a surprise to Agnes Kovacs, Manager of School Groups and Teacher Programs at the zoo. She told me that the zoo was just wanting to make sure that only school groups were getting in and just wanted to get some proof that the students were homeschoolers. The zoo now accepts proof of home education from H.S.L.D.A, and other home school advocacy groups as well as registration with the IBOE. She advised me yesterday that other advocacy groups have been recently added besides the ones at the website.

Not 6 months after this zoo issue was resolved State Senator Maloney
introduced SB 136 to make all Illinois Home Schoolers register with the IBOE. Now I understand the zoo's interest. They want to make sure that their free field trips for Illinois students is not abused and can be maintained. I can understand that as I went on such a field trip almost 40 years ago and that trip had a great impact on my life.

What I don't understand is Maloney's interest. He offers no incentives to home schoolers for registration. His motives are explained a little more in this e-mail I received from HSLDA . . .

From the HSLDA E-lert Service...

Illinois--SB 136 Epilogue

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Following up on his decision to table SB 136, Senator Maloney asked
several of us involved in the SB 136 hearing to meet with him.

Yesterday Sen. Maloney reiterated to us his belief that the government
needs to know the names and addresses of all homeschooled children. We
reiterated that this was neither necessary nor useful. After all, if
merely knowing a child's name and address could produce a quality
education, a quarter of Illinois public school students would not
still be without a diploma after four years of high school.

Sen. Maloney reiterated his concern about homeschooled children
"falling through the cracks." We reiterated that according to
published figures from State Superintendent Dr. Christopher Kock (who
was also present at the meeting), three-fourths of a million public
school children (765,989 to be exact) were truant for 2008-2009--so
that is where the state should focus its efforts concerning children
"falling through cracks."

Sen. Maloney reiterated his worry that nothing could be done to those
who violate the law while asserting they are homeschooling. We handed
him a copy of the State Board of Education's own webpage that points
to the Levisen case and describes exactly what procedure should be

While it was obvious that Senator Maloney still wants to increase
government control over homeschoolers, he said he would not move
forward on anything of this nature without first talking to us.

Before filing SB 136, he never asked for the input of those who would
be affected--the thousands of homeschool families in Illinois. We
welcome his new willingness to talk.

We are not asking families to take any action at this time. We will
continue to watch the situation carefully and let you know if and when
it's time to put down the books and drive to Springfield.


Scott Woodruff
HSLDA Senior Counsel

Maloney needs to realize that home educators in Illinois aren't going to accept registration for registrations sake. I won't register for incentives like field trips. I will register if the law demands it. However, I will actively oppose any bill that even smells like SB 136. I still have not been given a good answer to how the state will pay for making sure home educated children don't fall through the cracks when they already can't fund the ones seeking public education. While this post may truly be an epilogue for SB136, I am sure it is not the end of the registration issue in the state of Illinois. I wonder what is next, more carrots or more sticks?

Thanks to the folks at Life Nurturing Education for putting this in the recent carnival of Homeschooling. Click here to go back to that carnival.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Write a song for someone

A few weeks ago I posted a song here about Allen Levi, one of my favorite musicians/bloggers/people. I e-mailed him the link and received this response:

i'm honored by your creative gift. i've written lots of songs but not been written ABOUT in any before (that i can recall anyway). ... i posted two new blogs this week. i still have to make myself do it, but the writing is a good discipline for me. ... Hope y'all are good. You're a good man. every blessing, allen

I thought it was really cool that I could impress such a prolific song write like Allen just by writing a song about him. I also found it strange that no one had ever written a song about him before. So, my challenge for any of you would be song writers out there. Write a song for someone, it might be the only one they ever get.


I was working on some phonics work with Spider Droid and we were coding some words together. I wrote a few words down on a dry erase board and asked what he would do with them. His reply: draw a black hole near them and it would suck them all away.

It was funny and poignant thing to say because reading may not be his thing, but he sure has his science down.


A few weeks ago one of my former pastors who is now pastoring a Church near San Diego, CA had a massive heart attack. It is a miracle that he survived. His heart stopped around 30 times when they were putting a stent in. Each time they had to stop the surgery and start his heart again. After the surgery, he was in a coma like state for almost a week. All of a sudden, He was out of the coma like state and just days later he was at home with his family.

On Sunday my sister told me that a former pastor of ours had died that morning. He was substantially older than the first pastor I mentioned but still younger than all the kids grandparents. I will be at the wake at the same time that many of you checking in from Friday Fragments will be reading this.

Please pray for the families of these two men of God as they deal with the the two different outcomes to illness: recovery and death.


I was at Old Navy a few months ago and would you believe: They have a mannequin that looks exactly like Princess Puppy? That's just weird!

For more fragments head over to Half Past Kissing Time.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fitness Center Alpha (Hopefully not Omega)

This may be my first blog post that contains the word treadmill. This is probably because today was one of the first times in the 2+ year history of this blog that I have been on one. Amy and I both joined a fitness center yesterday. It was a pretty cool deal actually. $19.95 a month for me and $15.00 for Amy (plus 1 month free for me for referring her). The best thing is that there were no contracts or cancellation fees. So this morning I woke up at about 6 a.m. drove to the center and spent 35 minutes on the treadmill and watched live t.v.! I hadn't watched live t.v. since the Oscars. The workout went pretty well, I went a little more than 2 miles. Next time I may try some of the other machines. Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Amy and I grew up in the Catholic faith and since embracing an Evangelical Protestant Christianity we have not really observed Lent in the same way. This reminds me of a joke I told in the early early eighties. I gave up Catholicism for Lent, and once it was over, I wasn't Catholic anymore so I didn't have to take it back. (My jokes were much more cerebral back then.) Actually many protestants observe Lent. So each Wednesday during this Lenten Season I will share some observations and activities. This morning I will kick off school with this fun lesson I found about the pretzel and its Lenten origins. Well the nice thing about exercising in the blessed a.m. is being awake and alert to get a post out before the school day commences. But it's that time again to get with it. Have a good day I should be back today or tomorrow with a SB136 epilogue.

Monday, March 7, 2011

One Schoolhouse to go, coming up.

The winner of the Old School House Expo, Expo to Conference MP3 is

Wait for it.

Chick Hatchers.

Congratulations and I'll be in touch soon with your mp3.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday's Cool

I am trying out a new feature today. It's called Sunday's Cool: A Link up and a Look Ahead. Our family has several other blogs here in the blog-o-sphere. The majority of them go untended for and ultimately unread. I have decided that each Sunday I will link up one of those blogs here. This should give me the encouragement I need to have those update more often. That will be the link-up portion of the title. The look-a-head will just be a sneak peek at what may be appearing on this blog in the coming 7 days. As my loyal readers may have noticed, I used to end each post with a sneak peek of what my next post would be about. Sometimes the hardest part of writing a post was simply writing the next time tag. So, I gave up on it. This will give me a chance to give you a warning if I'm starting a six post series on lawn furniture feng-shui.

So with that build up here is the innaugural episode . . .
Sunday's Cool
A Link Up and a Look Ahead

A link up: A few weeks ago our family went to Springfield to indicate our disapproval with proposed Senate Bill SB136. It was tabled so we must have done some good. At our home school web site : Izola Becker Home School, I put up a few pictures from our time there. We chose this picture because past Puppy and the Liberty Bell replica you can see the lines of people waiting to enter the Capitol building and attend the discussion on the bill. Click on the picture to see the entire post.

A Look Ahead: Speaking of SB 136. I plan to post this week parts of an epilogue to SB 136 I saw at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). I will give it a HSD twist and plan to call it "Of Carrots and Sticks." On Monday, I will be announcing the winner of the home school conference mp3 give-a-way. This is your last chance to enter. Click here to do so. Hopefully the week won't get away from me and there will be loads of interesting tidbits here. Enjoy your Sunday and have a great week!.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I Always Have My Camera With Me, Except . . .

When I walk by Jim McMahon

Yes you guessed it. It's Six word Saturday time at Show my face dot com and I just played my six.

Here's a bit of an explanation. Actually there are 2 explanations. If this was a t.v. show the first explanation would start with these words imposed on the screen:

25 years ago

The Chicago Bears won Super Bowl XX. There were many leaders on the team one of which was their punky QB Jim McMahon. Now that Walter Payton is no longer alive, McMahon is the living embodiment of that team (at least on the offensive side of the field).

This leads us to our second explanation. Again if this was a t.v. show and you hadn't already switched the channel you would see these words on your screen:

1 week ago ...

Our family was given free tickets to go see an Arena Football game about 15 minutes from our house. The name of the team is the Chicago Slaughter and they are coached by another Superbowl winning former Bear, Steve McMicheal. It was the opening game of the season and there was a carnival like atmosphere at the stadium. If you have ever been to a minor league baseball game, it was much like that. There were bouncy rides and other games for the kids and even a face painting station.

As the second Half was just beginning I was coming back from the aforementioned face painting station when I walked right past Jim McMahon. This was not so unusual as it was Jim McMahon night. He was posing for a picture and it would have been so easy to snap his picture right there 10 feet away from him. Very easy as I almost always have at least 1 camera around my neck when I'm in public. I am a blogger, after all.

No, I had left both cameras I had brought to the event in the stands so my family members could take pictures like this ...

But in reality they were taking pictures like this . . .

So I rushed back to the stands to get a camera but by then it was too late. McMahon had gone back to his suite and even though I did snap two pics of him there.

The best you could say about these pics was the guy sort of looked like he could possibly maybe look a little like Jim McMahon. But the thing is:


The evening was still a whole bunch of fun. It's not every day you can shout Slaughter the Beef. (The slaughter lost to the Omaha Beef.) I will leave you with some video of the evening.

For more Six Word Saturday click here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dr. Seuss and More.

Yes, today is Theodor (Ted) Geisel's birthday and the beloved children's author best known by his pseudonym Dr. Seuss has been well celebrated today in the blogosphere. He was born on this day in1904 and died on September 24th 1991. At least 3 blogs in my blogroll have broached the topic. Check those out here, here and here. My post is going to be less about Seuss and more about others who share common bonds with him.

First here is a short list of a few other Theodore's who were known by other names.

Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt. 26th President of the United States.

Born: October 27th 1858. Died: January 6th 1919.

Other nicknames: The Trust Buster, The Hero of San Juan Hill (among others).

Quote: No man is above the law and no man is below it: nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it.

Theodore (Ted) Samuel Williams. Hall of Fame left fielder for the Boston Red Sox

Born: August 30th 1918. Died July 5th 2002

Other nicknames: Teddy Ballgame, The Splendid Splinter (among others).

Quote: Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.

Rev. Theodore "Ted" Martin Hesburgh. President, University of Notre Dame 1952-1987.

Born 5/25/1917.

Other nicknames: Father Ted.

Quote: The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.

While there are many famous Theodore's (One of them is even a Chipmunk) to choose from. I picked these 3 to accompany the good doctor for these reasons:

1) They all at one time went by Teddy or Ted.

2) They all were alive at the same time. For about 18 months from May 1917 to early January 1919 they all breathed the same air.

3) Like Teddy Roosevelt the other 3 would be on the Mount Rushmore's of their chosen professions. Seuss made the Children's book what it currently is. Hessburgh is a revered figure in religious, academic and political circles. He is Guiness world record holder for honorary degrees. Ted Williams is the best baseball player of his generation.

Here is a quick video from: The original Cat in the Hat television special. The cat is voiced by Alan Sherman (Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah) also born in 1924.

And now 3 videos featuring other doctors who really weren't doctors at all:

1. Dr. Johnny Fever (portrayed by Howard Hesseman in WKRP in Cincinatti 1978-1982

2. Dwight "Doc" Gooden Major League Pitcher 1984-2000

He still owns the record for strikeouts as a rookie.

3. Dr Pepper

The soda was invented in 1885 at a drug store in Waco,Texas by Charles Alderton. It was introduced to the country at large at the Worlds Fair in St. Louis in 1904, the same year Geissel was being introduced.

Others born on March second include: Desi Arnaz (1917), Mikhail Gorbachev (1931), Karen Carpenter (1950) and Jon Bon Jovi (1962)

People of note born in 1904 Peter Lorre- Actor (Casablanca and Maltese Falcon), B.F. Skinner - Behaviorist ( or as psych 101 students call him, the rat man), and Johnny Weismuller. Olympic Medalist and Tarzan actor.

So that's it for me. No time left to tell you that when Amy and were getting married we registered for a copy of Greens Eggs and Ham. (See how I snuck that in.)

A to Z 2023 Road Trip

#AtoZChallenge 2023 RoadTrip