Fired for Supporting the Second Amendment

Joe Huffman was fired from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for… What? Did they tell him? They indicated it was his blog. They said that he had posted about classified information.

Joe Huffman is a computer security expert. He had told them they had a problem with their security. They didn’t fix it. So during the period leading up to and following his firing, he checked out who was checking out his blog, what they were reading, and how long they were spending on it. The investigators were paying attention to his guns’ rights discussions. That’s what got most of their attention. The only work related post they read was one about a non-classified open project.

The rumor is that he’s going to sue their butts.

Read the entry on his situation here.

via Michelle Malkin


My beloved husband took up running on his 40th birthday, blast him!, and now I am running as well. There are several reasons for this.

One, of course, is health. Everyone should be as healthy as they can. If you are healthy, you have a greater chance of living long and being healthy.

A second is the fact that I am “the older woman.” I wouldn’t want him to get in shape and look gorgeous and me still me a middle-aged housefrau.

The third is that my mom is in terrible health. She’s been significantly overweight since she was at least 32. When I was 17 she lost 100 pounds and was down to a size 12, which is what I wear right now. I think she stayed at a size 12 for a month or two and then she started gaining again. So she’s been 100 pounds overweight, at least, for almost 27 years.

For me, the good thing is that the most I’ve ever been overweight is 50 pounds and that was for a two month period. Of course, right now, and for the last several months, I have been 25 pounds overweight. That’s not good.

Anyway, this is about running. So…

Last week I ran:
1.5 min run
1.5 min walk
3 min run
1.5 min walk
1.5 min run
1.5 min walk
3 min run
1.5 min walk
1.5 min run
1.5 min walk
3 min run
1.5 min walk

This week I am running, and have run this morning:
1.5 min run
1.5 min walk
3 min run
1.5 min walk
3 min run
1.5 min walk
3 min run
1.5 min walk
3 min run
1.5 min walk
3 min run
1.5 min walk
1.5 min run
walk home

Meteor Showers

I would like to go out this year and see these.

The best meteor showers will probably happen on August 11 to 13, Bown said.

“You have to be patient,” Bown said. “It varies from year to year. There might be a meteor every minute; there might be one every five minutes or, on a slow day, one every 10 minutes.”

…If you have your back to the Big Dipper constellation, you’re in good shape to see shooting stars, Bown said.

from The Olympian

When I was in college we all went out to Fort Phantom Lake (a hole with water in it then, now a brown sludge). We sat on the hoods of the cars and watched the stars fall from the sky. I didn’t know what we were going out for, but I found it to be magical.

I would love to have that experience with my husband and kids this year.


I was reading on some blog, sorry can’t remember which one right now, that 30% of Japanese and 60% of Americans think there will be a WWIII.

Then I went to Knowledge is Power and found a poll. The question is: Do you think we are already in the midst of WWIII? 172 yeses to 42 nos.

Phoenician Puzzle Jugs

-1700? Phoenician Puzzle Jugs in Cyprus. (That is 1700 BC.)

from Vitamin Q on Wed, July 13: “Singmaster’s Voice.”

For my second novel: So Dielli could be asked to solve one in Nakhaman’s home.

Evil People

Instapundit has an entry on the theft and burning of a family’s American flags after the funeral of the family member they lost in Iraq.

God, bring the perpetrator to justice and give them a full understanding of what they have done. Give peace to the family whose soldier’s service has been mocked.

Update: The flags were burned by two teens, ages 15 and 13. They did not know what the flags were for. They were charged with criminal mischief and arson.

Mail Call

Our VBS theme this year is “the Lord’s Army.” Instead of doing lots of tiny art projects, we are creating stationery for the soldiers.

We take card stock, fold it in half. The older kids make thumbprint pictures, with cute sayings on them. The younger kids use stamps.

Each of the kids has their name on the back of their card.

Then we buy envelopes and the soldiers have plenty of stationery.

That was today’s project.

My voice is hoarse because I am running a 500 picture slide show at the same time. And the kids always want to know what the pictures are. So, when we started and when they finished their cards, I was talking.

The only down side to tonight was one of the little girls who kept saying, “Soldiers are bad guys.” I was a bit upset about that. I explained that these soldiers were helping keep the country safe. These others were building schools and bridges. These others were providing medical care. But she just kept up her litany.

Someone said later, “Well, maybe this isn’t the right VBS for her.” (Since everything is about soldiering, including the Bible stories, I’d say maybe not.)

Update: 8/28/05 The kids and I got a letter from SPC Holly P. She said thank you very much for the stationery we sent her. She’s been to Texas, so she let us know that.

Lt. Gov Crashed Funeral

According to Blackfive, who I have always found to be reliable, Pennsylvania’s Lt Gov showed up at a slain soldier’s funeral, handed out her business card, and said, “…Our government is against this war.”

What? Was she thinking at all?

Michelle Malkin has a round up of comments on the blogosphere on the topic.

Ideas for Homeschool Co-op Class

One thing I was thinking today was that a fun class for the older kids would be an autobiography class.

What if I found and read to them sections out of autobiographies? And we shared our own experiences out loud? Then, as homework, they would write a portion of their autobiography. Each week we would add to it.

I think this has the potential to be great.

Benjamin Franklin
George Washington In His Own Words
Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Biographies? Maus would be interesting. The Star was depressing. Did I get rid of it?


A family story. For example, I could tell of my Grampa Daniel who fought in the revolutionary war. Or of my great-great-grandmother who came across the country on the Trail of Tears. Or of my grandmother the movie star. I think I would ask them to make this a positive story that they could add.

Their birth. Even if nothing very exciting happened, they could still write about where they were born, the hospital, the doctor, the date and time of their birth.

Their first memory. These are young kids, so what will be the earliest thing they remember?

Their first memory verse. Do they remember what it was? Who taught it to them?

Their siblings. Or their best friend. If they don’t have a sibling or if they would just rather not write on them. But this section would need to be more about the relationship between the two, rather than telling about the other person.

Their pets.

Their favorites. I could use the internet and email ideas on what favorites could be in the list.

Their parents.

At the end, the kids would have their own autobiography. I think it would be a lot of fun. I wonder if anyone else would think so?

Update: Apparently not. The class, which was supposed to be offered in the spring, did not make. Oh well.

Poems to Memorize

One thing that is missing in the modern education system is the recitation. Besides the multiplication tables and our “facts,” not much is memorized as a lesson. We may “learn” a song, but we don’t recite it. One of the best ways to enrich our interior thoughts is by memorization.

“Committed to Memory” is a lesson presented by John Hollander. It is also a poetry anthology edited by the author.

In the introduction, Hollander presents a story which illuminates the problems teachers encounter with students thinking they don’t need to learn something because they can just “look it up.”

In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates tells a story about the invention of writing, in which the Egyptian god Thoth shows his written characters to another god, Ammon, who rebukes him: “This discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember themselves.”

Hollander explains the history of memorization in American schools and how fifty years ago people chose the poems to memorize based on which ones had moved them. (My father’s favorites, for instance, are “Thanatopsis” and “Little Boy Blue.”) Now, however, memorization has almost disappeared from the school system.

Hollander also explains how the poems were chosen, by length and rhythm, among other things. He discusses how to perform a poem recitation. And then he gives a list of 100+ poems for memorization.

Some of the poems from that list, that I personally enjoy, are:
“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus
“When I Consider How My Light Is Spent” by John Milton
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day”, Sonnet #18 by William Shakespeare
“Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley
“The Spacious Firmament on high” by Joseph Addison
“The Tyger” by William Blake
“A Red, Red Rose” by Robert Burns
“The Negro Speaks of Rivers” by Langston Hughes
From “In Memoriam” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Song of Myself, XI by Walt Whitman
“Ecclesiastes 3:1-8” by Anonymous
“If” by Rudyard Kipling
“Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas
“The World” by George Herbert
Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll
“Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
“anyone lived in a pretty how town” by E. E. Cummings
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost
“The Owl and the Pussy-cat” by Edward Lear
“Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson
“All the world’s a stage” by William Shakespeare
“Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer
“Because I could not stop for Death” by Emily Dickinson
“Mending Wall” by Robert Frost
“The Darkling Thrush” by Thomas Hardy
“The Chambered Nautilus” by Oliver Wendall Holmes
“Spring and Fall” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
“To Autumn” by John Keats
“Ulysses” by Lord Alfred Tennyson
“The Kraken” by Lord Alfred Tennyson
“A noiseless patient spider” by Walt Whitman

Poets.Org Poetry for Teachers

Online Poetry Classroom is a great resource for teaching poetry.

This page offers 341 poems that teachers or others have recommended. At a quick perusal, I would say that half are more recent and half are classic. Some of the classics are clearly Christian. That’s good since many education sites do not include such literature as recommended.

Not all the poems are happy. “Richard Cory” is about a rich guy who goes home and shoots himself in the head. And many, if not most, Sylvia Plath poems are depressing. However, most of the classic ones are quite good. Just preview before you assign.

The most popular authors are Robert Frost and Langston Hughes.

Many of the classic poems are available from the site, which is good if you don’t have anthologies sitting on your shelf at home.

This page has tips on teaching poetry. Some of the ideas under Preparation won’t work for a homeschooler, but the ideas overall are useful and very encouraging. If you wanted to teach poetry, but were always afraid, this is a good resource.

There is also a collection of lesson plans created and used by secondary teachers. These lesson plans range from a single lesson on “Committed to Memory,” which includes a long list of possible poems to memorize, to “Women in Poetry,” which has a total of 33 lessons.

A Resource Center which includes quick links that cover everything from state laws on education to writers in schools programs to curricula.

Overall, I found this site to have a lot of good information, even for a seasoned teacher like myself. But I also thought it would be very helpful for beginning teachers, even if they’re beginning to teach their own children poetry at home. (“Committed to Memory” would be very good for that.)

Problem Novel Problems

Barbara Feinberg wrote an excellent article on the problem novel and what is wrong with it.

There were some good quotes. “I get a heartache in my stomach.” That was a little girl’s response to these novels which end horribly.

40% of the Newberry Medal winners in the last 1o years have been these kinds of books. So don’t plan on using that little golden circle to help you choose a good book for your child.

Children are reading these books where
“The protagonist is alienated and hostile toward adults.
Some relief from unhappiness comes from a relationship with an adult outside the family.
The story is often told in the first person, and is often confessional and self-centered.
The narrative is told from the point of view of an ordinary child, often in the vernacular; vocabulary is limited; tone is often flat, and emotionally detached.
Dialogue predominates.
The settings are urban, usually in New York or California.
Sexuality is openly and frequently discussed.
Parents are absent, either physically or emotionally.”

In addition she gives a discussion of some of the novels of this type that are popular right now.

I recommend the whole article, especially if you have been unable to articulate the problems with these novels.

Reading Classical Poetry to Children

But the fact remains that a greater effect in education is obtained by reading to a child a well-known poem than a little-known poem.Part of the reason for this is the simple fact of the knowledge being shared,

The vision held by MatthewArnold in the nineteenth century—that universal knowledge of poetry would take the place of the universal knowledge of the Bible he could already feel fading in England—has certainly not come about.

But there is some knowledge of poetry shared in America, and if the metaphorical resources of the language are not to be reduced entirely to references to 1960s television programs, that shared knowledge needs to be preserved. But there is another and better reason to read William Blake’s“The Tyger”to a child,and Robert Browning’s“The Pied Piper of Hamelin,”Eugene Field’s“Wynken,Blynken, and Nod,”R o b e rt Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verse,and all of Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear and Edgar Allan Poe. And that reason has to do with handing on a language as rich as the language we received.

One reason we read poetry to children is to maintain the deposit of word and phrase—prior generations’investment in the language.There is a purpose in putting “young Lochinvar is come out of the West”and “The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees ”in children’s anthologies—and “’Twas the night before Christmas”and “what is so rare as a day in June ? ”and “I hear America singing”and “Under a spreading chestnut tree”and all the rest of the Victorian parlor classics.The person who is not given these references as a child is finally deprived as an adult, for the language will never thicken and clot around old memories.

This qutoe is from What Children’s Poetry is For by J. Bottum.

Teaching Children Poetry

What Children’s Poetry is For by J. Bottum is a four page PDF which discusses what poetry to use with children and what to avoid. It also tells you a great deal about some poems that I didn’t know. For example:

Similarly,when A.A.Milne,the early 20th-century author of Winnie-the-Pooh,writes:
James James
Morrison Morrison
Weatherby George Dupree
Took great Care of his Mother,
Though he was only three.
a prosodist might tell us that Milne is nearly recreating, in a stressed English line, the rhythms of a quantitative Sapphic strophe straight out of Horace’s Latin Odes. There may be some interested in the fact that the rhythm technically runs — / – u u / – u u / – u u /– / – / /– / – u u / – u / – u u /-/-,just as there may be some interested in identifying the flaw in the ninth foot (“Mother”is one unstressed syllable s h o rt ) . But it’s awfully hard to imagine any child being interested, just as it’s hard to imagine any child who couldn’t immediately hear the rhythm in the poem without ever having heard of either Sappho or Horace.

Of course, I knew the part about the child being uninterested. It was that the rhythm was from Horace that I didn’t know.

Shelving Literary Classics

The quote below on dropping classics is exactly what I was looking for. But it is no longer available at the site, because they don’t keep them up. I would love to read the whole article, but the search engine won’t look for it by name. And when I found it, it would cost me $3 to get. I don’t know that it’s that good.

So from now on, when I find good content, I’m going to quote the most essential parts.

Kathleen Parker wrote this in an article entitled “No ‘Great Expectations’ When Schools Shun the Classics.”

Excerpt: “Call me a grouch. Call me a fuddy-duddy. Call me when it’s over. I’m talking about the latest fad of shelving literary classics in favor of contemporary, more fun-to-read books, which is now being advanced by the nation’s oops-educationists. Johnny can’t read? It must be the books. Thus, teachers in growing numbers are tossing literature’s old fogies — Shakespeare, Chaucer, Faulkner, that ilk — from school curriculums, and substituting more ‘with-it’ storytellers. You’ve never heard of these authors, and they won’t be remembered long, even by the teens for whom they write.”

This was in the Abilene Reporter News online.

Read to Them

“How Do You Make Children Articulate? It’s a Long Story…” describes an attempt at two British primary schools to teach children excellent langauge usage. The schools are ending each school day with one minute of classical music followed by a reading from The Wind in the Willows, or The Arabian Nights, or Aesop’s Fables.

“Language comes mainly through listening in early childhood and most children will listen to a good story well told,” Mr Bruton-Simmonds said. “The normal child has heard the classics for pleasure. In music and in literature the child is fortified. By the time a child is 10 it will know instinctively what is inferior art and what is good. It would not know the reason but it will know intuitively. It is by hearing a story read that you learn your love of language. That is how I learned – through my parents reading stories to me.”

That is, actually, how I learned as well.

What was I read in school?

The Wind in the Willows
A Wrinkle in Time

What did I read my boys?
The Narnia Series
A Wrinkle in Time

I wonder if teenagers would sit still for some family reading time. Or if they would like to participate in the reading?

Dumbing Down Books?

Are Americans getting dumbed down books? It seems obvious when you look at some of the works in the following quote.

Is children’s literature being dumbed down? The answer isn’t always clear, but the evidence that something is happening lies on store shelves around the country. “They have these My First Little House on the Prairie books,” laments author/illustrator and Emerson College Writer-In-Residence Lisa Jahn-Clough. “And that’s ridiculous because that is rewriting them and trying to introduce them at an earlier age, and I think that takes away from the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.”

Plenty of similar works, including William Joyce’s Santa Calls, have received the abridged board-book treatment. Most Richard Scarry books are routinely abridged, cut and pasted, rewritten and redrawn. Margaret Wise Brown’s Color Kittens has been redrawn and edited in recent editions. When you add to this the proliferation of substandard original works, especially in the Young Adults market where Goosebumps and Sweet Valley High sell serialized fourth-grade reading levels to teens, along with countless media tie-ins – thank goodness that all they’re doing to Harry Potter is changing Briticisms.

I haven’t read all the books from the quote, but I have read both versions of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. And I think that if you as a parent want to introduce these to your children, then you should read the originals to them. So much is lost in the easy to read versions, the big picture, the wording, the self of Laura.

Also, I have searched for years for the original version of the Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown. When the new version was published I purchased it, not quite happily because I didn’t like the drawings, but then when I read it… I wondered where MY story went. Where is the Color Kittens that I remember as a child?

I have to admit that I have only read Richard Scarry in modern children’s versions and I have no idea if the ones I have read are true to the originals or not. I do know my children loved Richard Scarry when they were younger.

While my boys read the Goosebumps series for about a week when they were 7 or 8, they weren’t enthralled with them. I would not think this was a teen series because of that.

In addition, one easy to read set that is not mentioned is Animorphs. My boys read more than 20 of those when they were 8 or 9. I don’t know if they are written on a fourth grade level, but they are simple and quick reading. The heroes are high school kids who date, drive themselves, and head to the mall. If these were supposed to be high school reading books, I would say they were definitely dumbed down.

The original quote is from John E. Mitchell and was written in November 2000.

What Can Parents Do? Reading

What can a parent, who wants their child to read and to read good literature, do?

• Research children’s books as you would a car. Teach children to qualify entertainment as they would food.

• Don’t stop reading aloud to your kids. “Many parents stop reading out loud to their child the year (he or she) becomes an independent reader,” explains Barrett. “Big mistake. If your main goal is to create a lifelong reader and get kids to enjoy stories, to be inspired by stories, to be able to think critically and creatively, the best way is to keep reading out loud to them – especially if you’re going to read above the level that the child is reading.” A child reading at third-grade level should be read aloud novels at middle-grade levels. A sixth grader should hear young adult books. Read one or two levels ahead, says Barrett, who rejects the idea that children won’t understand this more complex literature. “That’s another way we dumb down to kids. We expect them to not understand the concepts, the subject matter, the vocabulary, the structure of the story – but they do.”

• Try to keep reading fun and enjoyable, not a task or obligation. The writers interviewed for this article spoke of cherished memories of adults – a parent, teacher or librarian – taking the time to read aloud, to present it as fun, not labor, and as an opportunity to set their minds in motion.

“Since they started using novels in school, what is getting lost is the notion that reading is fun,” says Babbitt. “It’s homework now. And there’s a lot of homework.”
Society’s push to read should not be so stressful, Babbit says. It should introduce children to the joys of the act. Those who have an instinctive love of reading will read. But those who don’t would be better served by not being made to feel that they must read and they must read a lot.

“You’re a child for such short period of time; you’re not going to get through everything, and there’s a lot of good stuff out there,” Babbitt says. “Even if you read all the time, you’re not going to get through them all before you are a teen-ager. But we all keep right on doing it anyway.”

In the meantime, parents should approach the topic of reading with both abandon and caution.

These are excellent beginning recommendations from John E. Mitchell in November 2000.