Thank you, veterans.

Thank you, Chris. Thank you, Uncle Jimmy. Thank you, Uncle Frank. Thank you, Pappa Wiley. Thank you, everyone of you who have served our country in the past 232 years. Thank you for your service, your time, your work, your heart, and your lives.

God bless you.

Children’s Church Ideas for the Plagues

Today in Children’s Church we’re doing the plagues of Egypt. The suggestions page had some things to do, but I didn’t think they were as interesting as they could be. So I came up with some other ideas.

For hail:

Bring in ice. Let the kids feel that. That’s what hail feels like.

Bring in used paper. Let the kids wad it up. Have a contest for who can make the smallest person ball. Then everyone “pelts” that person with their hail. Older kids get several sheets of paper. The little ones get one.

Have the kids take some legos. Have them make a “house.” Have them stick their house on one of those lego sheets. This makes a town. Then put the sheets in a sheet pan with sides. Have them look at the aerial view of their town. Then pour rice or bird seed over it. That’s the hail. See what the town would have looked like after a hail storm.

I also went to National Geographic and printed out their picture of Bogota, Colombia after the hailstorm.

In addition, you could bring in a screen made of thin paper and some different kind of balls. Throw a ping pong ball at the screen. It bounces off. Throw a golf ball at it; the golf ball tears through. Then throw a baseball through it. Those are illustrations of what would happen to your skin with hail. A little wouldn’t hurt you, but a lot would. (You can use a picture frame with butcher paper or tissue paper for presents taped across the back.)

For flies:

Have a tray with graham crackers covered in icing. Have enough for each person to have one. Explain that the people of Egypt might have planned a party. The mom got the treats ready the day before. Show the kids the tray of treats. Then, the flies came! Have a shaker of sprinkles and throw it on the icing covered graham crackers as you say that. Oooh, no one wants to eat fly covered treats. (I did this with colored sprinkles and chocolate icing. But it would probably be better with chocolate sprinkles and white icing.)

For blood:

Tell the kids, in the old days, no one had running water. So they would get water and put it in a pitcher before they went to bed at night so if you got thirsty you would not have to go out to the well, which was often in the center of town. Have a pitcher of water. Also have a glass with red food coloring in it. Explain how someone might have poured water into their glass, and gotten blood! Show the glass full of red water to the kids.

For frogs:

Have a sandwich made. (I made a peanut butter sandwich.) Explain that people back then (about 3600 years ago) would have needed to eat too. Maybe someone’s mother made her a sandwich. And then, bite into the sandwich, scream/squeal. Show them the frog that got in the sandwich. (I used a small plastic frog from a set of them in the dollar store.)

Get a bag of stretchy frogs from the dollar store. Stick them to the outside of a glass, to your fork, to the food on a plate. Explain that this would have been what the Egyptians were facing when they were trying to eat.

It would have been fun to do, if I hadn’t been sick.

Turns out it wasn’t supposed to be my week. It was Casey’s. But she was glad to have the ideas to work with and I left her all my stuff. R will go back and pick it up later.

New bike

I bought a bike today. It fits me. I’m looking forward to lots less falling off the bike now that I can actually reach the ground.

Can you trust a politician?

Will Tom Tancredo keep his Flight 93 promise?

When the Crescent of Embrace design for the Flight 93 Memorial was unveiled in September 2005, Representative Tom Tancredo was the only Congressman to state the obvious, that “the crescent’s prominent use as a symbol in Islam–and the fact that the hijackers were radical Islamists,” raises the possibility that “the design, if constructed, will in fact make the memorial a tribute to the hijackers.” (Tancredo Press release, 9/12/2005, dead link.)

Looking at the original Crescent of Embrace publicity photo, it couldn’t be a memorial to anyone BUT the hijackers:

Bare naked crescent and star flag on the crash site

Architect Paul Murdoch’s job is to work with symbols. He did not plant a bare naked crescent and star flag on the crash site by accident.

Two days later, Tancredo’s press secretary laid out Tom’s conditions:

… that the congressman would be happy with the changes only if the crescent shape is removed.

But all the Memorial Project did was add some surrounding trees. Every particle of the original Crescent of Embrace design remains completely intact in the Bowl of Embrace redesign. The crescent shape was NOT removed. It was only very slightly disguised:

Crescent/Bowl of Embrace comparison

The graphics were recolored, and a few trees were added outside of the mouth of the crescent (lower left). Every particle of the original crescent and star structure remains.

Representative Tancredo was right to demand removal of the crescent. It turns out that a person facing directly into the half mile wide crescent will be facing Mecca. That makes it a mihrab, the central feature around which every mosque is built. You can plant as many trees around a mosque as you want and it will still be a mosque. This is the world’s largest mosque, by a factor of a hundred.

So where is Tom Tancredo? Will he live up to his promise and demand that the crescent be removed? Or is he now okay with a terrorist memorial mosque being planted on the graves of our murdered heroes?

Contact Tancredo

Feel free to copy and paste this post into an email for Representative Tancredo’s new press secretary. Or you can use Tom’s online mail form to let him know how he was duped.

Representative Tancredo was effective in 2005 in standing up for the honor of Flight 93. Now that the crescent mosque is actually being built, he is more needed than ever. Please Mr. Tancredo: live up to your Flight 93 promise!

When Tom Burnett Sr. went public with his plea for a Congressional investigation, he mentioned Representative Tancredo as someone he liked and hope would be of help. Please Mr. Tancredo, hear the urgent warnings from this father of one of our murdered heroes!

The phony redesign

To see clearly how the redesign leaves the original Mecca-oriented cescent fully intact, note that the orientation of the original crescent can be determined by connecting the most obtruding points of the original crescent structure, then forming the perpendicular bisector to this line (red arrow):

Crescent bisector points to Mecca

The green circle shows the direction to Mecca (the “qibla” direction) from Somerset PA. It was generated using the Mecca-direction calculator at Just place this qibla graphic over the original Crescent of Embrace site plan and the Mecca-direction line almost exactly bisects the crescent.

Looking closely at the above graphic (click for larger image), you can see that on the bottom the most obtruding tip of the original crescent structure was the last red maple, while on the top it was the end of the thousand foot long, fifty foot tall, Entry Portal Wall. Here is an artist’s rendering of the end of the Entry Portal Wall as seen in the Bowl of Embrace redesign. It shows how overtly this upper crescent tip remains intact in the redesign:

Upper crescent tip unchanged

The redesign only added the extra row of trees on the left, behind the visitors in this graphic. Notice that these trees are not even visible to a person who is facing into the crescent. They do nothing to affect even a visitor’s experience of the crescent, never mind the presence or integrity of the crescent itself. The original Mecca-oriented crescent remains completely intact and is now being built.

Egg Salad Recipe

3 eggs, hardboiled
2 T mayonnaise
1 T brown mustard
1 T (heaping) sweet pickle relish
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste

Cut up the eggs well. I use a fork.

Add all the non-seasoning ingredients and then mix.

Dust the top with paprika.

Then mix again, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Stumbles: Pics, History, Random

Rooms painted to be 3D, very weird.

Vincent Van Gogh Gallery

Bone Chandelier in Prague

Watermelon carvings

Some truly funky pictures

World Beard and Moustache Championship returns to North Am. in 2009. Go look at some of those growths!

7 Quick Tips on how to make your wife happy

How to write a Curriculum vita.

How to cure your food cravings

online graph paper including dot paper

Walking around the world in 14 years

10 Things you didn’t know about Hitler

Museum of Hoaxes

Resources for medieval studies

Ancient history resources

Nautical Pompeii Found in Pisa… archaeological finds are fascinating. Pics.

Did you know Stonehenge has been rebuilt in the last 100 years? It didn’t look like this in 1850. This site has pics.

Stumbled Upon: English/language related

The origin of everyday punctuation marks. Interesting.

A list of overused Fantasy cliches, which led me to wonder which stories they were from. … Of course I recognized Tasha Yar of Star Trek TNG.

Very cool online graphical dictionary and thesaurus

Alphabet Evolution, not complete, but interesting.

Write your name in Elvish.

Question about original fairy tales being incredibly violent.

Big Huge Thesaurus for rhymes, sounds like, etc.

Website on Hans Christian Andersen’s tales.

Anagram Hall of Fame, The morse cold = here come dots

Weird and wonderful foreign phrases, including tartle which is Scottish for hesitating when introducing someone whose name you can’t remember

English tongue twisters

Brother’s Grimm tales

Speech funnies, “She looked as if she had been poured into her clothes and forgot to say when. P. G. Wodehouse”

Crazy Facts, origin of “rule of thumb” and “sleep tight”

Next week in Games and Races

We’re doing 1000-1400 AD again. We are going to be bobbing for apples. This was apparently common in the apple countries in apple season, September or October.

We are also going to have King’s Cake. One person has a bean in their cake. That person is “king of the feast.” So I want to make cupcakes and put a bean in one. I’m going to talk about the fact that when I was their age we cooked a dime into the cake. The person who got that was supposed to be rich.

Finally, we will play Blind Man’s Bluff again. We played it for the Roman era. It will be fun to play it again.

I need to remember to get all this ready for next week.

Games of History: 1000+ AD

One of the things I learned in my studies was that as soon as paper was available (from China about 1000 AD), people started making cards and playing them.

So in Games and Races in History, we played Merels (Nine Man’s Morris), from the Vikings, approx. 700 AD. And we played Go Fish and War. The kids loved playing Go Fish and War. They weren’t as hip on Merels.

It was a lot of fun.

Poetry you can sing.

We had poetry class today using “Down by the bay,” which none of my students knew.

Down by the bay
where the watermelons grow
back to my home
I dare not go.
For if I do
my mother will say,
“Did you ever see a bear
combing his hair
down by the bay?”

We came up with:
sheep driving a jeep
seal cooking a meal
fish washing a dish
whale checking his mail
cat wearing a hat
pig dancing a jig
llamas sporting pajamas (I did have to explain the use of sporting there.)
bee drinking his tea
yak sitting on a tack
mice picking at lice

It was fun.

Then we tried to change the beginning part.

with honey buns, … I dare not run
where I got my groove… I dare not move
with a blackberry pie… I dare not fly

This section was not as fun, but we did it and enjoyed it.

We also learned the words to “Yankee Doodle.” (Only one student knew it.) Then we wrote lines for the verses of the song. They were supposed to compose three for their homework.

Yankee Doodle went to town
riding on a lion.
The lion ate old Yankee up
without any frying.

Yankee Doodle had a coat
that was black and pretty.
His conversations, short and long,
showed he was very witty.

Mother and I went to the mall
and bought a million shoes.
When we were at the big shoe shop
we found we couldn’t choose.

Those were mine.

The kids enjoyed it immensely. We are going to do “Take me out to the ball game,” “On top of old smokey,” and “I’ve been working on the railroad” next week.

Thanks for the ideas, Bruce Lansky.

The death penalty is a deterrent

for the person who has been executed.

The local DA is making a big deal out of saying that violent criminals don’t stop and think, “I could get the death penalty for this.” So, he says, it is not a deterrent.

But if a person does a violent crime and we execute them, they are never going to get out of jail and do it again.