Saturday, January 31, 2009
Tonight, my husband received about 90 CDs through Freecycle. About 30 are ones we're genuinely pleased to get! We got Yanni, classical, Morrissey, Erasure, Harry Connick, Jr., and some other great stuff! Many thanks to the generous giver!
Friday, January 30, 2009
Apparently, all those years of medical school left someone lacking in common sense and possibly desperate to pay off school debts. I have a hard time imagining what kind of rational person would help a woman have higher-order multiples when she is already raising a fairly large family with only her parents to help.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I'm sorry, I know some of the arguments for balanced literacy and I can see its appeal, but right now I HATE it. What I see is a basically bright boy being mistaught and set on a course for failure for the next ten years (assuming he makes it through high school). He needs weeks, if not months, of reading with no pictures or other context clues until phonetic reading becomes automatic for him.
Any ideas out there on how to break him from these horrible habits that are holding him back? I wish I could just homeschool him for a while to keep him away from what they're teaching him to do at school, but since I'm not his mom....
Update: I just talked to his mom and found out that his teacher last year was most likely the problem. That teacher tried to have the class writing essays and did other things that the mom fought against. I'm glad that I'm not having to feel like I'm fighting his current teacher, but I'm sad that he was stuck with the previous teacher for a whole year. I love it that my mom transferred us out of classes when the need arose. :) Thanks, Mom.
Chinese organized crime is the first to take advantage of this open door to South America. Since the Ecuadorian government dropped visa requirements, authorities have registered a 500 percent increase in "Chinese tourism" from 2007 to 2008.
According to statistics from Ecuadorian police, some 2,875 Chinese tourists arrived in the country between January and June 2008. During the first three months after the removal of the visa restrictions, some 7,837 Chinese entered the country, shifting the daily entry average from 13 in 2007 to 78 by the end of 2008.
With the already well-established illegal immigration routes from Ecuador into the USA, is it any surprise that Chinese Snakeheads would jump on the chance to bring their clients to Ecuador visa-free? I'm quite sure these new "tourists" aren't buying the stuffed llamas and leather jackets. No, they're working in chifas (Chinese food restaurants) for free until they can be shipped off on some foundering vessel to Panama or Guatemala.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Do we really need a law that is going to make it so thrift stores avoid selling items for children? Do we really need people writing tax laws that they're not able/willing to follow themselves? With a recession and rising unemployment, do we really need to go even further into debt to rehabilitate the National Mall, update technology at the State Department (last I saw, State was doing OK in the technology area - what was really needed, at least abroad, was simply more U.S. citizen employees), and expand Medicaid family planning services (not that I'm against family planning, but people can get what they need from a Walmart shelf!)?
Here is one current bill I can get behind. ;)
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
As to that "Waveyard" project...sounds like a fun idea, but they are going to lose a fortune in evaporation to that Arizona sun!
Monday, January 26, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Using my usual dinner roll recipe (but without as much butter or sugar), I roll out a huge rectangle of dough (after it has risen once and been punched down). Then I put on spaghetti sauce, some mozzarella cheese and other pizza toppings. I roll the rectangle up into a big cylinder and then cut off disks just as though I were making cinnamon rolls. I put the pizza rolls on a greased pan, and then I put some mozzarella cheese on top of each roll. I let the rolls rise again. Then I cook them for about 15 minutes at 375F.
The rolls are like pizza, but they do not require as much cheese as traditional flat pizza, and it is much easier for my little ones to eat them because there is no hard crust. They also make great snacks because they taste good and are easy to carry around.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Silly me, I thought that in our country parents had a right to be involved in the education of their children and thus have a right to know how we are using instructional time--that whole governments draw their power from the consent of the governed and parents have the responsibility to raise their children thing--and alas I found out that, to some, is crazy wacko talk, because parents don't have licenses. Go figure.I have two responses to this:
1) A study looking at differences in a math teachers' effectiveness as compared to alternatively-certified and non-certified teachers found that there was hardly any difference at all.
2) Fundamental to the founding of our country was the idea
that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,The Declaration of Independence follows this statement with words that justify altering or abolishing a destructive form of government:
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.A school, especially a public school, is a form of government. My mother, a teacher by training, consistently demonstrated the applicability of the words above to our schooling. Over the course of our school years, she worked hard to ensure that we received the best education possible for our circumstances. She has operated her own private school, sent us to private schools and alternative public schools, and taught us at home; public schools were the default option for her, and she only trusted them with her children as long as they qualified for that trust.
Public school is the default option for most simply because it is paid for by taxes and is what we're used to. As an institution, it won't disappear tomorrow just because it acts in a tyrannical fashion:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.However, educators who refuse to account to parents for how educational time is spent are pushing them past the point of "sufferable" "evils". Public school administrators who wish to keep as students the children of motivated parents should heed the lesson the American colonies gave to England in 1776. If they persist in not recognizing the rights of parents, those parents will eventually turn to charters, vouchers, homeschool, online school, or another school or school district. All the unresponsive administrators will have left to reign over will be the children of parents who don't care how their children do in school and the unfortunate teachers stuck with manning detention centers that were formerly known as schools.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
As I recall, the purpose of the conference was to bring in a number of science-inclined young women and encourage them to choose a career in the sciences. However, the only part of the conference I remember was a lecture on exponential population growth. The message I took away was that the people who wanted women to go into math and sciences also were against the birth of children.
Yesterday, The New York Times reported on the cost in family satisfaction paid by women science professors:
Surveying outcomes for 160,000 Ph.D. recipients across the United States, the researchers determined that 70 percent of male tenured professors were married with children, compared with only 44 percent of their tenured female colleagues. Twelve years or more after receiving their doctorates, tenured women were more than twice as likely as tenured men to be single and significantly more likely to be divorced. And lest all of this look like “personal choice,” when the researchers asked 8,700 faculty members in the University of California system about family and work issues, nearly 40 percent of the women agreed with the statement, “I had fewer children than I wanted,” compared with less than 20 percent of the men. The take-home message, Dr. Mason said in a telephone interview, is, “Men can have it all, but women can’t.”From a purely Darwinian point of view, expecting a young woman to sacrifice her reproductive fitness for the sake of career advancement is simply too much, and yet the structure of academic research, in which one must spend one’s 20s and early 30s as a poorly compensated and minimally empowered graduate student and postdoctoral fellow, and the remainder of one’s 30s and into the low 40s working madly to earn tenure, can demand exactly that.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Daughter #1 is four and will turn five just before the cutoff date to start kindergarten next fall. Under Colorado law, we're not required to "school" her until she is seven years old. However, she has been doing workbooks and www.starfall.com for over a year, and I've been teaching her to read with a McGuffey's primer I found online and any other resources that happen to catch her or my interest. She has been sounding out simple words for nearly a month (she's enjoying the Bob Books), she grasps the fundamentals of addition and subtraction, and I've begun introducing her to ballet steps and musical notes.
If she were kindergarten age already, I'd clearly be able to call her a homeschooled child. What do I call her right now? A "preschooler with a mother who likes to teach her stuff"? I can't see that our lives will change all that much between now and this coming August. So, is it my daughter's age that makes a difference? Or can I call myself "a homeschooler" yet?
I've seen all this in the Philippines. Tuberculosis and various unpleasant tropical ailments are extremely common there. The poverty is such that many mothers give their children cola to drink instead of milk because it costs less (and the water would just make them ill); as a result, their children's smiles are full of triangular-shaped teeth due to tooth decay. Woman with unwanted pregnancies often turn to questionable black-market pharmaceuticals to try to end the pregnancies themselves.
There is a law being drafted right now in the Philippines that won't force anyone to use family planning, but it will facilitate the spread of correct information on the subject and making family planning materials available. Is it really in anyone's interest for a squatter mother to give birth to ten* closely-spaced, unhealthy children just because she has no access to information and means for safe birth control? Children who will die early or go on to live in squalor and neglect and most likely turn to crime and prostitution when the government handouts of rice no longer suffice?
According to a recent article, there is large--82%--public support in the Philippines for the subject of the family planning law. I hope that means the law will pass.
* Lest the reader think I'm against people having many children, I'm from a family of ten children myself. My mother was able to space us in a healthy way, so she and we are still alive. In fact, we are all now college graduates or will be within a year and contribute much to society.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
"On average, currencies of developing countries have fallen by 15 percent against the dollar, but high-income-country currencies (save Japan’s), have also depreciated. In general the competitiveness of the United States, Japan, China (whose currency has held steady versus the dollar), and those countries whose currencies have been pegged to the dollar will have been reduced; competitiveness for countries whose currencies have depreciated will be improved in these markets."This looks bad for Ecuador. They rely on oil (now under $37/barrel), they use the dollar, in 2006 they destroyed their chances of entering into a bilateral free trade agreement with the U.S.A. (leading export market - 42% in 2007) anytime in the near future, and on December 31, 2008, the trade benefits they received under the U.S. Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act expired.
Ecuador's Economy Minister may be denying that plans are in the works to un-dollarize Ecuador in favor of a new domestic currency, but I'm not buying his denial. I think the Sacagawea dollars are headed home to the U.S.A. by 2012.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Last fall we received a flyer in the mail from Qwest with an offer to receive a 12-month free upgrade of our internet service. Who would turn down such a thing? So, we called and requested the free upgrade. November's bill came, and Qwest charged us for the upgrade. My husband called and asked them to correct the bill, which they did. December's bill came on a Friday just before we left town for the holidays, and Qwest had charged us $20.00 for the upgrade. We just checked online, and January's bill shows Qwest charging us $20.00 for the upgrade yet again.
I spent three hours on the telephone this morning trying to straighten things out with Qwest. We were passed from office to office, and the upshot of it is, they will not fix our December or January bill and they will charge us $9.99 for changing our service back to the lower original level. Apparently, the flyer we received was from another office, and since we no longer have the flyer (we kept the order confirmation letter, but that wasn't enough), the several different offices I spoke to at Qwest have no knowledge of this promotion and will not honor it.
So, basically, we're out $50.00 for three months of increased internet speed that we didn't need in the first place. As soon as I can decide on a better option, I'm getting away from Qwest. There are systemic problems with its organization that I don't want to deal with again. Maybe we'll be one of those families with no land line after all.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
We are raising our children bilingually at least, and ideally trilingually. The other languages--Spanish and German--they are learning in our home are much more regular in their spelling than English. One of the most important things I can do for them to facilitate become fluent readers in these other languages is to teach them the alphabet of each language and how it represents the phonemes, i.e., phonics instruction. It appears to me that shortcutting this process by teaching them any sight word recognition (explicitly, at least - I can't help it if they memorize a word's appearance on their own) would handicap them in developing literacy in all of the languages they will be learning.
Do U.S. schools handicap children who might want to learn a phonetic foreign language later by using balanced literacy instead of pure phonetics? Is Chinese our future anyway (thanks, Joss Whedon), so we might as well train young minds to read in an ideographic fashion? Any ESL teacher or other language teachers out there with anecdotes or studies (preferably the latter) to share on this subject?
For those wondering about the name, I don't actually have a petticoat nor do I intend to govern the world. The title of the blog is the title of one of my favorite novels by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, author of the Scarlet Pimpernel novels (yes, there are more than one!). The novel was released under the name "Petticoat Rule" in the USA. Its heroine is strong, intelligent, and slow to realize her poor taste in men. It also provides a fun look at the French court under Louis XV.