Thursday, October 30, 2008

COH ~ Week 148

Carnival of Homeschooling ~ Week 148
hosted by Henry at Why Homeschool

The carnival will be here next week, so make sure to send in your submissions by the evening of Monday, Nov. 3, if you would like them included in next week's carnival.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Splish Splash

We have a mouse in the house. Correction: We had a mouse in the house. Although I am glad that our uninvited guest is gone, I wish he had chosen a less dramatic exit.

About a week ago, we had a terrible rain storm. It rained buckets all day long and into the night. The ceiling in the boys' room had leaked in the past, and despite the fact that our 75-year-old, spry yet scarecrow-built landlord climbed up on the roof during a tornado warning to fix the leak a few weeks ago, I still had my ears open for that dreaded dripping sound. (Stick with me... we'll get to the mouse.)

I went to sleep almost immediately upon my head hitting the pillow that night, but was awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of water. In my semi-conscious state, I assumed it was the boys' ceiling and tried to will it to stop so that I wouldn't have to climb out of bed and find a bucket. I slowly entered a more awake state and realized that the sound was awfully loud to be water dripping in the boys' room. The sound would have to travel down the hall and through two closed doors. Plus, the sound of the furnace muffled much of the sound outside the room.

Now, I was awake (but still refusing to open my eyes). What could it be? I realized the sound was coming from around Frodo's side of the bed. That corner of the room is where the addition containing the master bedroom meets the main part of the house. Many homes in the South, including ours (I have no idea why) do not have rain gutters, so I concluded that water must be running down the joint in the roof and splashing into a pool of water on the ground outside. Yes, that had to be it. I settled in and tried to go back to sleep.

But it sounds awfully loud to be coming from outside. Maybe there's a leak in our ceiling?! I was now completely awake - eyes open and everything - but I couldn't see in the dark. I grabbed my reading light (the kids keep wandering off with my in-case-of-emergency flashlights) and crept to Frodo's side of the bed. When I got to the nightstand, I realized that the sound was coming from the nightstand and illuminated the surface and found this:

Apparently, our uninvited guest had climbed the nightstand and Frodo's pile of reading material in search of a drink and got a little more than he bargained for.

So, we are now mouseless (for now) and our mouser (who lives outside because of Frodo's allergies) required a little less breakfast than usual the morning after our great adventure.

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Birthday, Paddington!

Today is the 50th birthday of Paddington Bear... the bear responsible for making me an anglophile. I was absolutely enthralled with the idea of tea and marmalade. It seemed amazingly refined. But Paddington does not fit any idea of "refined" yet he still enjoys tea and marmalade. If not him, why not me? So tonight, brew yourself a pot of tea and enjoy a bit of toast with marmalade and enjoy of taste of refinement. In the morning, grab a copy of A Bear Called Paddington and introduce your children to the most polite, if not the most refined, bear to come from Darkest Peru.

Paddington, who all this time had been too interested in his bun to worry about what was going on, suddenly became aware that people were talking about him. He looked up to see that Mrs. Brown had been joined by a little girl, with laughing blue eyes and long, fair hair. He jumped up, meaning to raise his hat, and in his haste slipped on a patch of strawberry jam which somehow or other had found its way on to the glass table-top. For a brief moment he had a dizzy impression of everything and everyone being upside down. He waved his paws wildly in the air and then, before anyone could catch him, he somersaulted backwards and and landed with a splash in his saucer of tea. He jumped up even quicker than he had sat down, because the tea was still very hot, and promptly stepped into Mr. Brown's cup.

From the huge birthday cake down to the last marmalade sandwich, everyone voted it was the best tea they had ever had. Paddington himself was so full he had great difficulty in mustering enough breath to blow out the candle. But at last he managed it without singeing his whiskers, and everyone, including Mr. Curry, applauded and wished him a happy birthday.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Don't Waste Your Vote

I've been told that if I don't vote for one of the two "major party" candidates, I am wasting my vote because there is no possible way a third party candidate can win. This is simply not true. Any candidate running for president can win as long as he/ she gets enough electoral votes. Right now, according to the Green Papers, there are seven presidential candidates with the potential to receive the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election. Below, I have listed the seven candidates, what parties they are (predominanatly) affiliated with, and how many electoral votes they have the potential of winning. I have provided links to the campaign and party websites when I could. Please evaluate your own values in what you would like to see in a president, read the Constitution to see what qualifications a presidential candidate must have (and what the role of the president is to make sure that the candidates understand the job description), and then research the candidates below to determine who you believe would be the best leader of the executive branch of the U.S. government. Then, and dare I say only then, go vote.

Candidates are listed in alphabetical order (by last name of the individual leading the ticket), ladies first.

Cynthia McKinney/ Rosa Clemente - Green Party - 528

Chuck Baldwin/ Darrell L. Castle - Constitution Party - 513

Bob Barr/ Wayne E. Root - Libertarian Party - 527

John McCain/ Sarah Palin - Republican Party - 538

Frank Moore/ Susan Block - Independent - 270

Ralph Nader/ Gonzalez - Independent - 531

Barack Obama/ Joseph Biden - Democratic Party - 538

Not all candidates (except McCain and Obama) are listed on the ballots of every state or are eligible as write-ins in every state (yes, you have to be "certified" as a write-in candidate in most states). The Green Papers has lists of candidates by state. Please check your state's rules for write-in candidates before attempting to write a candidate in, for any office, on your ballot. In some states, like Oklahoma and Mississippi, write-ins are not allowed, and I have read somewhere that attempting to write-in a candidate in Oklahoma invalidades your entire ballot, but I have been unable to confirm this. (If anyone can confirm or deny this, please let me know, and I will update the information here.)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Acting Lessons

Sir Ian McKellan giving Ricky Gervais some acting tips. (from the series Extras)

A little tip: Put your coffee down first.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Spoonful of Sugar

On Monday, September 29th, the House of Representatives voted against H.R. 1424, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. This original form of the bill numbered 110 pages and dealt predominantly with how the federal government would purchase "troubled assets", protect homeowners who are facing foreclosure, distribute monies, provide oversight of those companies receiving money, and other related issues. Many Representatives, when asked why they voted against this bill stated that either their constituents were against it, they felt it did not provide enough oversight, or that it is not the role of government to "save" private companies and citizens from the consequences of their bad choices.

On Wednesday, October 1st, the Senate passed an amended H.R. 1424 numbering 451 pages which has now been passed on the the House for a vote, expected to take place Friday, October 3rd. What is included in those additional 441 that led the Senate to pass it?

After skimming through both versions of the bill (there was no way I could read through all 561 pages this afternoon and keep 6 children fed, clean, and educated, so I had to skim the majority of them and then focus on reading the additions made), I have found that the question of oversight has been addressed and tweaked, but that hardly accounts for all 441 new pages. So, what does comprise the majority of those additions?


All day, I have been hearing the media (mostly NPR as we don't have television reception nor do we have a great variety of good radio reception) use the term "sweeteners" in reference to the additions to the bill which made it "passable." Even Frodo, who attempts to avoid all things political when possible, couldn't help but notice the new term the media has been using to describe what in the past has been referred to as "pork." I understand why the politicians want to avoid the word "pork." It's an election year. Thirty-five of the 100 Senate seats are being contested this year, and all 435 Representatives are up for re-election. These politicians know that during elections years, you have to be against "pork barrel spending," so apparently they've decided, with the media as an accomplice, that items added to a bill to guarantee enough votes to pass it are now called "sweeteners." Maybe they thought the term would invoke images of birthday cakes and Christmas candy, but all I am picturing is a guy in a cheap, ill-fitting polyester suit standing in front of used car of questionable background annoyingly chewing gum and winking while saying, "How's about I sweeten the deal for ya, doll?"

But whether you call these additions "pork" or "sweeteners," what they really amount to are bribes. They are targeted spending measures intended to buy the votes of congressmen by making them look good to their constituents. Do they not see the irony of an emergency economic stabilization act containing spending the government can't afford? As of October 1st, the federal debt totaled:


Wall Street is in trouble because they gambled on inflated house prices and used mortgages as collateral for their other financial dealings. When the housing market turned, these banks owed more money than the value of the mortgages they put up against their loans. Main street is in trouble because individuals gambled on the inflated economy providing them with ever-increasing incomes and ever-increasing home values by using adjustable-rate mortgages to buy houses they couldn't afford and left them houses valued far less than the amount of money they owed. So what is the government's answer? They are going to gamble that the "troubled assets" they buy today will be worth more in the unnamed future. In short, they are going to attempt to fix the financial crisis by engaging in the exact same practices that led to it in the first place.

So, what kind of promises does it take to get a congressman to vote for a strategy that it can't afford and has already been proven to fail? Here are some of the bill's "sweeteners" (these are all section or title headings that you can search for yourself in the bill):

-Renewable Energy Credit
-Transportation Fringe Benefit To Bicycle Commuters
- Seven-Year Cost Recovery Period For Motorsports Racing Track Facility
-Extension and Duty Modification Of Duty Suspension On Wool Products; Wool Research Fund; Wool Duty Refunds
-Permanent Authority For Undercover Operations
-Exemption From Excise Tax For Certain Wooden Arrows Designed For Use By Children (you can't make these up, people)
-Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (yup, there is an entire act tacked on as an amendment; actually there are three)

The members of the House stood up once and said no to government intervention in the financial markets. (It was government intervention that led to this problem in the first place, including the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989; Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992; and administration-based changes to the Community Reinvestment Act, first enacted by President Carter in 1977, and effecting changes in Title 12 of the Code of Federal Regulations both by President Clinton, in 1995, and President GW Bush, in 2003.) Let's encourage our representatives to stand up again to government interference. And let's make sure that, as we do so, we are willing to suffer the potential financial sacrifices that may be necessary to weather this adjustment in our financial markets as we move toward a more realistic, asset-based economy.