Saturday, September 29, 2007

Juan Williams A "Happy Negro"? - CNN Thinks So

A day or two ago, CNN declared in its broadcast that Juan Williams, a frequent commentator on The O'Reilly Factor and other Fox television programs, was a "Happy Negro".

Say what?

O'Reilly was having lunch at a Harlem restaurant with Al Sharpton, talking about how sometimes whites feared black people, and that it was primarily driven out of fear. Just look at how the media portrays black people far too often as gang-bangers, or half-literate hoodlums that can't speak proper English. On his radio program, O'Reilly remarked to Juan Williams that the restaurant that they were eating at was just like any other restaurant run by white people.

The comment was taken completely out of context by CNN, and O'Reilly was portrayed as anti-black. Juan Williams, who was talking to him on the radio, was called a "happy negro" for speaking to O'Reilly and having a civil conversation about all this.

A month ago, if you asked me how race relations were in America, I would have said "pretty good." My family is about as integrated as they come. Between me, my husband, my husband's brother and my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law and her husband, there are exactly 3 white people and three black people. Nobody ever gives us problems. My biracial daughter has no problem making friends and tends to be popular wherever she goes. My biracial son is the darling of the church nursery... even the other children come up to him and call him "the cute baby."

But obviously, despite so much progress, underneath the surface there is much tension. Look at the whole Jena 6 controversy. That is a mess all around. There are both whites and blacks that have acted poorly in that one. Then you have this whole O'Reilly/Williams/Happy Negro controversy. How insulting can CNN be? To me, calling someone a "happy negro" brings up thoughts of old slave/plantation stereotypes a la Driving Miss Daisy.

Give me a break. Both me and my husband watch the O'Reilly Factor regularly and I've never seen anything on the program to make me believe that he is a racist. We've both read two of his books and never have seen anything that we perceive as racist. Juan Williams always appears intelligent and seems to have his own opinion.

CNN seems to be the racist ones to me. Happy Negro? Come on. Reminds me of when my husband decided that he was going to go to college and he asked for a small (1/2 hour a week) schedule accommodation from his boss. His boss's reply was a no and implied that he shouldn't be wasting his time trying to better himself, and what, was his job answering phones not good enough or something? Like maybe he should just be satisfied making below the mean salary for the rest of his life, letting his computer talents go to waste. I'm not sure if the comment at the time was meant to be insulting or not, but it sure sounded along those lines. And so does "happy negro". I didn't watch CNN before, and I'm certainly going to think twice before turning it on again.

read more | digg story

Monday, September 24, 2007

Apple says iPhone unlocking may leave handsets "permanently inoperable"

Apple said Monday that many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to the iPhone's software, which will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed.

In another article I found, "This has nothing to do with proactively disabling a phone that is unlocked or hacked," Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, said in an interview. "It's unfortunate that some of these programs have caused damage to the iPhone software, but Apple cannot be responsible for ... those consequences."

We're supposed to believe that Apple didn't purposely write code to try to override the hackers? That it's all a coincidence that Apple is releasing a software release that will disable hacked iPhones? ROFL. I'm the tooth fairy.

read more | digg story

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Everyday Mathematics Makes My Head Hurt

An internet friend of mine who had previously been homeschooling her 9 year old decided to send her child back to public school, at least for a semester. On the message boards she remarked that her daughter hated her new public school math class, and had even cried during math. She was using a textbook called Everyday Mathematics.

I had heard of the book before, but I didn't know anything about it. I visited some web sites to learn more about it. Wow, it's quite scary. I was looking through the K-3 glossary to see some terms that their book used:

mental arithmetic Does not require all computations to be done in one’s head. Rather children develop a variety of flexible solution strategies, including drawing pictures and doodles, counting jumps on a number line or grid, and so on. Children devise their own solution strategies.

Doodles? Drawing pictures? Children devising their own solution strategies? That's just looking for trouble in a math class. You can't devise your own solution strategy for something that you barely know how to do in the first place.

number grid A table in which consecutive numbers are arranged in rows of ten. A move from one number to the next within a row is a change of one; a move from one number to the next within a column is a change of ten.

Huh? Say that again?

Fact Triangles Triangular cards that use the members of fact families for practice with addition/subtraction and multiplication/division facts. Two one-digit numbers and their sum or product (marked with an asterisk) appears in the corners of each triangle.

What was wrong with flash cards?

power of a number The product of factors all of which are the same. For example, 53 (five to the third power, or 5 x 5 x 5) is another way to name 125.

I understand this term perfectly well, but this was something that was taught in 7th grade when I took pre-algebra. I might have learned it in 6th grade math, but certainly not in 3rd grade math.

In case you think that these third graders are geniuses, though, the K-3 glossary fails to include definitions for improper fractions, mixed fractions, subtrahend, addend (not an item in the glossary by itself, but the definition of "number family" assumes that you already know what an addend is), or minuend. Not that most people use those terms in their everyday life, but if you are going to be teaching mathematics at as high a level as powers of a number, I would think that you would want to teach fractions first... and I would guess that if you taught fractions properly, some of those terms would end up in your book's glossary.

MJ McDermott, a meteorologist with a degree in atmospheric science, produced this 15 minute YouTube video talking about Everyday Math, as well as TERC math. It's pretty interesting:

It's amazing how anybody other than someone with a really high math aptitude already would be able to go through a program like this with a good grounding of mathematics.

How Can You Tell If Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Is Lying?

The answer, of course, is when his lips are moving.

60 Minutes this week had a hilarious interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today. If you've got it on Tivo be sure to watch it. You can hear him utter such gems* as:

  • What do we need a nuclear bomb for? The nuclear era has passed.

  • (After hearing a quote from George Bush that was basically telling him off) I can't believe that George Bush said something like that. That must be your interpretation of what he said.

  • I wanted to visit Ground Zero to pay my respects.

I just couldn't help but thinking about how Satan is known as The Father of all Lies. This guy was lying through his teeth like crazy. I almost thought that he believed his lies.

The top quote of the evening was at the end. It had me rolling...

"I am a Moslem. I can not lie."

Too funny!

*Unless an item is in direct quotes, I am paraphrasing Ahmadinejad's sayings. The saying I directly quoted was a quote of what his translator said.

20/20 Tough Call Part 1: Hannah Montana

20/20's "Tough Call" Episode last week had a couple of controversial segments... although I suppose that all of them might have been controversial to some people. I felt like I should comment on two of them, and since they are about two completely different subjects, I'm creating two different posts.

The first tough call I want to address is Hannah Montana. Most people who have kids above the preschool age have probably heard of her, she seems to be pretty popular. I don't know much about her myself, other than that she's on the Disney Channel and is a little over my daughter's age level still.

Miley Cyrus, AKA Hannah Montana, is the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, known for the once-popular crossover country song, "Achy Breaky Heart." From all I know about him, he seems to be country's equivalent to Vanilla Ice.

He took his daughter on tour with him when she was a baby, and she became interested in music, acting, and the stage. 20/20 seemed to act like it was surprising when she became so interested in acting and music and wanted to do it herself. Not too surprising, is it? People often follow in the footsteps of their parents. Our country has even had a couple father/son presidents.

20/20's reporting is intended to make the audience believe that Billy Ray Cyrus made the correct call when he let his daughter audition for television roles, and to have her own television show. I have a different take on the whole situation...

She's 14. The jury is still out on whether he made the right call.

Has 20/20 forgotten about Britney Spears already? When she was 16 (older than Miley is right now), Britney seemed to have it all together. You would have thought that her parents had made the right call too, to let her join the New Mickey Mouse Club, then later Innosense, and then to create a solo album. A lot of parents thought that she was a great role model for their daughters.

That's not really the case with Britney any longer, right? She is now another example, among dozens, of child star horror stories. She might still have a lot of money, but if you wish your children to live a happy life with a moral compass and a heart for Jesus, she's not it.

Hopefully everything will turn out great for Miley. She seems nice enough. But give it 6 or 7 more years... then we can know if Billy Ray made the right call.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Is This Normal In A 10 Month Old?

My 10 month old baby is under the 5th percentile for weight, yet he eats like it's going out of style. He routinely goes through 3 stage 2 jars of baby food for lunch, eats Cheerios for breakfast (probably more than his 5 year old sister), and for dinner he almost always eats more than his sister, and sometimes more than me or my husband. To me, he seems pretty strong. As a newborn, he was practically holding up his head before he left the hospital.

He doesn't walk on his own yet, because he hasn't perfected the balance thing, but I already can't keep him in one part of the house. I was blocking off the living room from the rest of the house with a big giant gate, but he is quickly figuring out how to move the gate and escape. So if I want to keep him confined, I put him in his playard.

Only now he moves the whole playard if he doesn't like where I put it.

Like today. I needed to wash dishes after he woke up from his nap. So I put him into the playard. He pushed the playard, toys that were inside it and all, into the kitchen so he could be with me. In order to get into the kitchen, he had to maneuver around the corner and around the kitchen counters. But he did it.

I don't remember my daughter doing anything like this. Or any other 10 month old, for that matter. Anyway, I grabbed the camera and filmed it:

My husband tried putting 3 and 5 pound weights around the playard, but he pushed those out of the way. My daughter has trouble picking up a full jug of milk... somehow I doubt that when he's 5 he's going to be telling me "I can't get anything to drink because it's too heavy!"

Family Friendly TV During Family Hour? Maybe...

I was watching the previews for a new CBS television show called Kid Nation, where a bunch of children end up stuck out in the middle of nowhere by themselves. From the initial description it sounds a lot like Lord of the Flies... but then the previews went on some more and it seemed more like a controlled reality television experiment. Besides, if a television show really wanted to recreate the Lord of the Flies experience for television, a) it would probably get a lot of protests, b) not too many parents would let their children be sent off for such Lord of the Flies experiment unless they really wanted to get rid of their kids, and c) Lord of the Flies reality TV would probably involve CPS.

The television show has adult cameramen and medics on staff (although hidden), so I guess that keeps the kids from killing each other. The television show seemed fairly tame, so I let my daughter watch the show. Here are my findings:

The show is pretty good, kid-friendly television, for the most part. The kids have to deal with things like homesickness, working together to win challenges, and they end up with assigned duties like cook, laborer, or storekeeper depending on what team they end up on (four teams competed for the different spots; the fourth team became the "upper class" and get to help out however they feel like). None of the kids are sent home, although they can go home if they choose, but one kid per episode can win a gold star worth $20,000... which is a lot more than the first Survivor competitors to get voted out get.

There was only one thing that I found wrong with this show. There were several instances of blasphemy (oh my g__). The kids on the television show ranged in age from 8 to 14, and I'm sure that many of them have far worse potty mouths at home or even off-camera, but I did find it bothersome. I suppose that most of the kids on the show don't see anything wrong with that phrase, as most of them were probably brought up in homes where that wasn't considered cursing. At least it allowed me to have a conversation with my daughter about how that is not a phrase that she should be using.

I suppose that Kid Nation is more family friendly than most television that has been on during this time slot lately. I think that I will allow my daughter to continue to watch it, but it reminds me of the movie Time Changer, where a professor at a Bible school from 1890 travels through time to the present day and goes to see a movie. He comes running out of the movie theater yelling "stop the movie! There's been a big mistake! They are blaspheming the Lord!" or something along those lines. I'm not particularly fond of this aspect of the television show.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Science Experiment: Even A 5 Year Old Can See That Evolution Does Not Make Sense

My daughter and I are going through Bob Jones University Press's Science 2 this year. Today we did a science experiment. We made pudding to demonstrate that evolution is nonsense.

I put the milk in one bowl, and the pudding mix in the other bowl. "How long do you think it will take for the pudding mix and the milk to come together to make pudding? A day? A week? A year? A million years?"

To think that the pudding mix is going to jump over into the bowl of milk is absurd, and my 5 year old was able to figure that out. And pudding only has 2 ingredients, milk and pudding mix. Imagine how hard it would be for a pile of screws and metal to get together and make a watch, or boards and nails to magically get together and build a house. Or could a tornado in a junkyard produce a space shuttle? Even a space shuttle is less complicated than the DNA inside a frog, yet we are to believe that the frog came together by itself, even though nobody would believe that the less-complicated space shuttle could build itself.

My five year old understands it.

Reminds me of a Bible verse. Romans 1:22 "Professing to be wise, they became fools."

On a related note... don't you think if any transitional forms were seen (as in, a reptile growing wings and flying) it would be all over the news? I'm not talking about fossils... if transitional forms still happened, we'd notice. We've had people making scientific observations since the Greeks at least... so it hasn't happened where a scientist could notice in 3000 years.

Infant Shot Execution Style In Armed Robbery

Here's one for the sick-and-twisted-morality file: a man and his infant son were shot dead during an armed robbery.

Police believe that the baby's father drove to his friend's house, left the baby in the car, and ended up running into the robbers instead. The robbers shot him, and on their way out, they decided to put a gun to the infant's head and shoot him, still sitting in his car seat.

Who does something like this? I could understand to some degree if this was a 6 year old who might be a witness to the crime. It would still be pretty awful, but people are pretty selfish and the robbers might feel that killing the witness would be in their best interests. But what is a 7 month old going to say? "Da da da da da" is about all my 10 month old manages to say. I guess that the court might find out that Dada was there, but the baby wouldn't be able to point out who actually committed the crime from that testimony.

Reminds me of Matthew 24:12 "And because iniquity should abound, the love of many shall wax cold." There's not one logical reason that I can think of that someone would purposely kill an infant during the commission of a crime. Perhaps they thought it would be fun and that they could get away with it.

Also reminds me of the verse "As in the days of Noah, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be." The world that Noah lived in was filled with violence.

One more related verse: Matthew 18:6 "Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Note To OJ: "Fight On" Doesn't Mean Armed Robbery

OJ Simpson has been recently in the headlines... this time for armed robbery. Evidently somebody ended up with some of his sports memorabilia, he found out that it was going to be auctioned off, and he was caught trying to steal it back.

While normally I really don't care about football players, since I don't watch football, OJ Simpson is different. We went to the same college (different years). I was attending the University of Southern California during the OJ Simpson trials. I was hoping that everything would turn out to be a big mistake and he'd be found not guilty, since at the time, he was one of our more famous football heroes.

What a difference several years makes. While OJ Simpson still did great things for our football team back in the day, he's now one of our more infamous graduates, rather than one of the people we proudly say "yes, I went to the same school as _____." I'm sure that every college has them, but ours is pretty visible right now... and because he was such a football hero back in his college days, his name will unfortunately be forever linked with the University of Southern California. I'd rather have George Lucas or Neil Armstrong come to mind first.

But then again, I suppose that other colleges have their infamous graduates as well. Ted Kaczynski, aka the Unibomber, went to Harvard. Ted Bundy, a famous serial killer, went to the University of Washington. I suppose when they were admitted nobody knew what they would become.

So here's a note to OJ Simpson, and every other USC alumni out there... "fight on" may be a great fight song for football and basketball games, but it doesn't mean breaking into houses or stores and committing armed robbery.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Math Is Beautiful!

I found this today on the internet. I thought this was really cool...

Beauty of Math!

1 x 8 + 1 = 9
12 x 8 + 2 = 98
123 x 8 + 3 = 987
1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876
12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765
123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654
1234567 x 8 + 7 = 9876543
12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432
123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321

1 x 9 + 2 = 11
12 x 9 + 3 = 111
123 x 9 + 4 = 1111
1234 x 9 + 5 = 11111
12345 x 9 + 6 = 111111
123456 x 9 + 7 = 1111111
1234567 x 9 + 8 = 11111111
12345678 x 9 + 9 = 111111111
123456789 x 9 +10= 1111111111

9 x 9 + 7 = 88
98 x 9 + 6 = 888
987 x 9 + 5 = 8888
9876 x 9 + 4 = 88888
98765 x 9 + 3 = 888888
987654 x 9 + 2 = 8888888
9876543 x 9 + 1 = 88888888
98765432 x 9 + 0 = 888888888

Brilliant, isn't it?

And look at this symmetry:

1 x 1 = 1
11 x 11 = 121
111 x 111 = 12321
1111 x 1111 = 1234321
11111 x 11111 = 123454321
111111 x 111111 = 12345654321
1111111 x 1111111 = 1234567654321
11111111 x 11111111 = 123456787654321
111111111 x 111111111=12345678987654321

Now, take a look at this...


From a strictly mathematical viewpoint:

What Equals 100%? What does it mean to give MORE than 100%?

Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%?

We have all been in situations where someone wants you to GIVE OVER

How about ACHIEVING 101%?

What equals 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help answer these



Is represented as:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.


H-A-R-D-W-O-R- K

8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%



11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%



1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

THEN, look how far the love of God will take you:


12+15+22+5+15+6+7+15+4 = 101%

Therefore, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that:

While Hard Work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will
get you there, It's the Love of God that will put you over the top!

Have a nice day & God bless!!!

Friday, September 14, 2007

20/20 Takes On Health Insurance

I really like John Stossel's reports on 20/20. They're always pretty interesting, and he usually makes a lot of sense. Earlier this year, he did a report on education, stating how when there's competition, services are better... for example, in other countries when schools compete for children to attend, whether public or private. I know for a fact that the private sector can educate children more effectively, because for the same cost that the public school educates a child, Kindercare provides full-day Kindergartens at most of their centers, and will throw in breakfast, lunch, and snacks.

For his health care segment, I was not surprised that he did a good job as well. He first pointed out that it's not good to be without health care. He brought out a lady that left her job, was on temporary insurance, and then found out that she had cancer. After her temporary insurance ran out, she was left with paying for everything out of pocket. While nobody in our family has cancer, thank God, we did deal with losing our health insurance when my husband lost his job earlier this year. Just our luck, we ended up with two fevers at 103 or greater and one case of severe dehydration in an underweight infant, and ended up with 3 emergency room trips. We now have health insurance so all is taken care of again.

For several years now, I've found most private health insurance offered by employers to be way overpriced. I turned down health insurance while working at Kindercare because it would have cost half my paycheck. Health insurance at my husband's last job would have cost $700 a month out of our pockets, and that was after his job kicked in enough money to fully cover my husband.

Why is that? I can shop around and find high deductible policies that cover my entire family for around $200-$300 a month. Why do employers offer the low-deductible policies and charge their employees an arm and a leg for it? During most years I wouldn't even use $8400 in services, which is what the insurance policy offered by my husband's prior employer would have cost him every year. I don't even think that we'll reach a total of $8400 in health insurance costs this year, and that includes 3 emergency room visits and several well-baby checkups.

Health insurance costs a lot because people use it for everything. He brought up a good point... what if there was grocery insurance? People would be buying steaks instead of hamburger. The same thing is true with any time someone else is paying for services... I receive WIC, and although I always buy the cheapest milk and eggs that are at the grocery store, I buy my preferred brand of tuna fish and don't really look at the price. If someone else is paying for it, you are less likely to shop around.

Why do we include the smallest things in our health insurance coverage? If everyone paid for their own well visits and checkups, it would lower health insurance costs. Similarly, people should pay out of pocket for things like birth control and viagra. These are things that a lot of people will buy, but if you have to pay for them out of pocket you're going to shop around. You're also going to think twice about whether you really need something or not. When we were without health insurance this summer, for example, we really thought long and hard about whether we were going to take our kids in. I waited each time until I thought that there was nothing that I could do at home, and they really needed to be seen or they might die. While I don't think that people should wait until they think that they are on the verge of death before they see a doctor, sometimes if you just have the sniffles, you really don't need to be seen.

Britain, France, Canada and Cuba are looked at by Michael Moore and others as examples because they have free health care, but because it is free to all, it is substandard. People have to wait for months to see a specialist, even for life-threatening conditions. Emergency room waits are longer than ours here, if you can believe it. The wealthy and well-connected might be able to get better care, as Michael Moore was able to in his movie, but ordinary people are going to hospitals where they try to save money by washing the sheets every other day... one suggestion to save money was to flip the sheets over and reuse them. Gross!

At the end of his report, John Stossel talked about clinics popping up in grocery stores and pharmacies, where you pay cash and see a nurse practitioner. I wish I would have known about those months ago. My daughter wouldn't have had to suffer temporary hearing loss and spend over a month with an ear infection because we couldn't afford a doctor. We could have saved 2 emergency room trips, I'm sure, because we could have taken in my children when they had fevers and gotten a prescription for antibiotics. Probably not when my son was dehydrated because he needed an IV, but the other two trips could have been saved. Since we live in a major metropolitan area, I'm sure there must be one of those within driving distance of us.

I think that clinics are a great idea. Just as it would be preferable if routine doctor's visits were something ordinarily paid for out of pocket. Competition would reduce prices. It would save doctors offices money as well, because they wouldn't have to pay so many staffers to haggle with insurance companies. Of course, you're always going to have people with medicaid, but wouldn't it be better if instead of having a $700 a month health insurance premium, you had a $300 a month health insurance premium and covered routine doctor's visits, viagra, birth control, and other small items out of pocket? Do you really spend $400 a month on all those things? Maybe some people would have to because they get sick a lot, but if everybody did it, doctors would lower prices to try to draw customers.

HSAs are a good idea, in theory. My husband's job last year had a really nice HSA program where you were given a debit card and could pay for health costs with that. It allowed you to roll over money that you had if you didn't use it all in one year. When my husband worked for the state, however, their HSA program really bit. You would lose all your money at the end of the year if you didn't use it, and you had to fill out a form and mail it in if you had a health expenditure, and they would reimburse you. We decided to opt out of that one because in most years we don't really get sick that much, and having to go through the whole headache of reimbursement wasn't worth it.

This is just my opinion, but why couldn't we have a hybrid type health care system? Allow for private insurance (private clinics are illegal in Canada). The government could offer coverage for major medical expenses to every family making... say... under $100K a year, or those that lose health insurance because of a preexisting condition... with a catch. The government's health plan would only cover major, life-threatening medical expenses, like cancer. Of course, we know that in countries with government health care, the line to be seen is long, so anybody with enough means to afford private insurance would probably want to pay for that, because they wouldn't have to wait as long to be seen.

It would be preferable if more companies would offer higher deductible plans that cost the employers less per month. Then people would have to spend the first couple of thousand dollars out of pocket, but they would make better choices and shop around. They would save a lot of money in the long run, because $700 per month after your employer's contribution for health insurance is ridiculous.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Putin Dissolves Parliament... Get Ready To Rapture?

Vladmir Putin dissolved the Russian parliament (story here)! My husband called me this afternoon to ask me if I knew anything about Russia, but I hadn't had the TV on anything but PBS Kids and Tivo'd O'Reilly Factor from yesterday, so I had no clue. Then I discovered that the Russian parliament had dissolved and a new Prime Minister was in power.

Ever since Putin was installed as President, I always thought that he would be there for the end times. He just seemed to have the background for it. Now I'm even more sure that I'm probably right. Especially considering that Russia has planted their flag and claimed the North Pole as their own, and they seem to be getting a little imperialistic.

For those of you that do not know what Russia has to do with the end times, a little info. Russia is supposed to invade Israel in the future, but they will get their butts kicked supernaturally. That's how I understand it supernaturally. If you've ever heard of Gog/Magog... that's Russia. We know that Russia is Gog for several reasons. Moscow is north of Israel, for one. Rosh is also mentioned by name, and Tubal is also a place in Russia. I'm just going off the top of my head on this one, if you want more info on why Russia is Gog, you can google it.

Anyway, for prophecy watchers, this is a MAJOR development. Things are moving quickly! Or at least they seem to. There is nothing that stands in the way between history and the rapture... it could happen at any time. Gog/Magog is something that is to happen in the tribulation, so that means if things really are moving in that direction, the Christians will be out of here soon. Very soon.

Are you saved? Are you sure? Jesus Christ died on the cross to forgive you of your sins. If you haven't realized that you are a sinner, repented of your sins and asked Jesus to save you and forgive you of your sins, you probably are not saved. Please do so! The rapture could happen at any time and you don't want to be left behind!

Think you're a good person? Take the good person test here! If you pass the good person test and have never sinned, you have nothing to fear. Unfortunately, the Bible says that there is none righteous, so you probably won't pass.

What Do Celebrities, Senators, and Suicide Have In Common?

About a week ago, it was all over the news that Senator Larry Craig was gay, and had plead guilty to indecent conduct in a gay sex sting. Although he has denied the allegation that he was gay, an Idaho newspaper reported that he was.

I don't wish to ponder on whether he is gay or not. The better question is, should the newspaper have reported that he was gay? Should newspapers out someone that does not want to be outed?

Is knowing that someone is gay or not important? If this person is a member of the clergy, I suppose that it would be. Some church denominations have had recent scandals along those lines. The Bible forbids homosexuality and calls it an abomination. If a member of the clergy engages in homosexual acts, then they probably should not be in a position of leadership in the church, as church leaders should be role models that laypeople can look up to.

You could argue the importance of a senator's sexual orientation both ways. Is a senator's sexual orientation important? On one hand, it might affect the way that a senator votes, which is important. If a senator's sexual orientation is going to cause him to vote in favor of gay marriage, that's important to know. In Senator Craig's case, he wasn't known for being pro-gay in his voting record. You can also argue that senators should be role models, in that case you may consider it important.

If it is not important as to whether a senator is gay or not, I don't believe that the newspapers should report it. In that case, it is just gossip. It doesn't matter whether it is true gossip or not... we are not to speak ill of other people for no reason.

Which leads me to celebrities. They are often known for their chaotic lives more than just about anybody else. Should newspapers out celebrities? It is important whether an actor is gay or not? Does it really make a difference? You could argue that celebrities are role models too, but if a celebrity does not publicly make his or her homosexuality public by acting discreetly, their sexual orientation would not be a factor in how people saw them. So in my opinion, if a celebrity is gay and is not open about it, the newspapers should leave them alone. It's just gossip.

Which leads me to my final point. People were shocked when Owen Wilson tried to commit suicide. Doesn't he have everything going for him? Then again, don't most celebrities have wealth, fame, and just about anything us normal people could dream of? If that's the case, why do so many of them get into drugs and alcohol? Why does Britney Spears shave her head in a moment of apparent lunacy?

Here's my theory: who are the most gossiped about people in the world? Celebrities, right? I can't think of anybody else who people gossip about more. You might say the royal house of Windsor, but they're celebrities too. If someone has millions of people gossiping about them, by definition you could say that they are celebrities, right?

The Bible tells us not to gossip. It doesn't matter whether the juicy tidbit is true or not, it is still gossip. Gossip is hurtful. People don't like to be gossiped about. You could say that being gossiped is part of the job of being a celebrity, and some stars act like some publicity is better than no publicity, but that doesn't make it right. Perhaps even to the most publicity-seeking celebrity there is, something on the inside feels hurt by what people are saying about them. Perhaps that's why celebrities tend to live such chaotic lives, and try to escape with drugs, alcohol, and occasionally, suicide.

I have to add, sometimes it is difficult not to gossip. It can happen without even thinking. And sometimes there's a fine line between gossip and trying to make a point or teach someone a life lesson. So I realize that it's something that I and many other people need to work on.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Osama's Beard!

I was listening to Way of the Master Radio and heard a REALLY interesting tidbit. You know how Osama Bin Laden died his beard black? Well, Islam forbids someone to dye their hair unless they are going on jihad!

Maybe he just wants us to think that he's doing something. I hope so. I don't want to see another attack on the US. But maybe we should be extra vigilant.

My husband has been watching Glenn Beck this week, and I usually don't care for the show, but he's having some really interesting info this week about terrorism and schools. There are 17 school buses that have gone missing. There were also some blueprints and videos of public schools here in America found with the terrorists. Could you imagine how grieved our society would be if the terrorists struck a school? It would just kill our spirits.

And if there was an attack on our schools, what do you think the chances are that schools will let parents pick up their children in a timely fashion? I'm giving the chance about... zilch. This school in Texas kept children hostage at school until 9 PM or so the other day due to lightning, I don't think that children will be going home quickly in the event of a terrorist attack on schools. :(

I'm glad that my daughter is going to school at home.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Curriculum I Am Loving This Year

We started school officially on September 5th (even though dd asked to do school early so we did a couple of lessons the week before). After looking through my new curriculum, I was really excited about trying out Bob Jones University Press's Bible course... but after teaching it for a week, I am sure that it is a curriculum that I am going to love.

It's been really easy to implement this program. The questions are all laid out for you, they have child-friendly paraphrases of the Bible accounts to read if you don't want to read straight out of the Bible, and the worksheets are simple and fun (they do one page a day).

I also really like how BJU Bible 1 ties in other subjects to help extend the learning. We have been learning songs in our Bible class (currently we're doing This Is My Father's World). We also are doing BJU Music K, so she gets to sing a lot. I'm glad she gets to learn all these songs, because a lot of times she'll be in church with us and she doesn't know the hymns, so this will help her.

They have a science connection where we've been doing some fun things as well. During our lesson on God making the sky, we made a cloud in our kitchen. We looked at the difference between salt water and fresh water when we talked about God making dry land and seas. These were easy to do but fun. We also learn a different Bible verse every week.

I am teaching BJU music, reading, history, and science as well, but Bible is my favorite out of all the BJU courses. The rest of them are good too :).

They Ought To Be Ashamed...

My husband is pretty good at web site design. He's been studying flash at school, builds beautiful flash presentations for our kids, and has done several web sites for both himself and other people. Since he did the web site at our previous church, when he got to the new church, he was the most qualified person to do the job of webmaster here as well.

Our church already has a web site up using a company called Easy Address. It's one of those cookie cutter places that gives you tools to put your own web site together. We are not impressed. The site is very expensive ($24.95 a month if you sign up for a year's service). For that price, you get 50 MB of storage, 20 email accounts, and their church templates.

Me and my husband have a couple of domains that we pay $5.95 a month for. For 1/4 of the Easyaddress price, we have 300 GB of space, unlimited subdomains and unlimited email addresses, and 1000 GB of transfer space per month. It also comes with one
free domain name, a bulletin board, and a shopping cart. Sure, it does not come with the fancy church templates, but $19.00 a month for the church templates? Personally, I think it's highway robbery what Easy Address is charging.

What I think is worst, is that they are charging this outrageous price in what they call a "church plan". Like they are doing churches a special favor by offering this service. They ought to be ashamed, is my response.

Our church site is pretty small, but using their special church templates, it is taking up 25 MB of their space. My husband, who makes very nice flash web sites, has never made a site that takes up that much space. With all the sermons, he could do the whole site in 10-15 MB., which offers a comparable service to what Easy Address sells, offers a site building program called Web Site Tonight, that charges $10.40 a month, offering 4 GB of space, 400 email addresses, and web mail. So if you compare Easy Address to a close competitor, they are still twice as expensive.

I'm sure Easy Address knows that their service is highly overpriced, and they prey upon people that don't know any better. We are trying to get a refund for the remaining 8 months that our church prepaid for so my husband can put up a far superior design up for a fraction of the price.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"Free" Public Schools? It May Be Cheaper To Homeschool

I've been noticing a trend for the last couple of years. I never really followed it before I started homeschooling my daughter, but it is truly amazing how much it costs to send children to the supposedly "free" public schools. While I may think that it costs a lot of money to homeschool my daughter (and so does my husband every time I tell him I need to buy a new textbook), it's not always cheap to send your child to public school any more either.

This article from the Houston Chronicle really is interesting to me. A mom in the article spent around $1500 on public school for her three children this year. That's pretty amazing, considering I spent $377.87 to buy books for my daughter this year, and I had to buy books and teacher's manuals for every class! My most expensive costs were a $42 set of CDs for a music class and another $42 on visuals for a Bible class. Of course, she probably didn't shop at Wal-Mart during their annual dirt-cheap school supplies sales, because she spent $75 on school supplies alone. I spent about $15, and that included 10 boxes of crayons, 2 dozen pencils, 2 boxes of markers, paper, folders, and notebooks for my husband that is attending Arizona State University. Office Max also had some great sales that she missed out on... they were selling pencils for $.01 for a week there.

Another lady spent $130 on novels for her child's English class. I never spent that much money on books for my college composition courses at the University of Southern California! What do you want to bet that most of those books won't even get read? $130 will buy a lot of books, especially if you go someplace like Half-Priced books.

Many schools charge for mandatory student ID cards. Another school in the article charged $1 for people forgetting to wear their ID card, or $5 if you lose it. I highly doubt that those things cost $5 to make. I can go to the local teacher's shop and have stuff laminated for a lot cheaper than that. Many schools also charge for parking, different elective classes, technology classes (are those mandatory nowadays), and PE uniforms (whatever happened to wearing shorts and a T-shirt from home to those classes).

It's getting so bad that some schools are hiring collection agencies! Who ever heard of such a thing? And then of course, you have the endless parade of fundraisers at many public schools... candy sales, wrapping paper sales, sales of useless knick-knacks, concession sales, etc.

A friend of mine (who chose to homeschool rather than send her child to public school) would have spent the following on fees had she sent her child to public school:

$150 book fees
$50 gym shoes
$50 (at least) for supplies
$250 for school lunches (they discourage bringing your own)

It's true that she included lunches, and of course I have to feed my daughter lunch every day. But we can always eat leftovers from the night before, and she begs me to make her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which is really cheap to make.

I also spend money on things like annual zoo passes, but then again, if my daughter was in public school I'd have to pay for her field trips as well, if she went on them. When she is older, I'll probably want to buy or rent microscopes and other scientific equipment as well. But the difference between those expenses and the expenses that people incur to send their children to public school, is that I can keep all the books I buy. I will be able to use all the nonconsumables for my son when he is old enough for school, which will save me a ton of money. And when my kids are done with the books, I can sell them.

While it isn't cheap to homeschool, public school isn't cheap any more, either. For those people who are not frugal with their money, it could cost more.

Health Care Saga Over...

In a dramatic end to the health care saga, I called AHCCCS in the morning to find out why we weren't allowed to see the doctor when we were supposed to. I guess they hadn't signed us up for a health plan yet. Nevermind they ask on the application form if you have a health plan that you'd like to go with...

They told me that it would take up to 72 hours for the information to filter to the health plan's computers, but I could take my daughter to the doctor anyway and they'd have to call to verify the insurance. Urgent care said that dd would have to be in the computer, but it was the fastest 72 hours I have ever heard of, because she was already in the system, less than 2 hours after I had gotten off the phone with the health insurance people.

At the pharmacy, it was another story. Evidently the pharmacy side of the insurance and the doctor side don't talk with each other. Fortunately, one person at Walgreen's was knowledgeable enough and knew how to get it fixed, but it required a 45 minute wait. I'm okay with waiting as long as it works out eventually. I had a coloring book for dd with me so she was okay too.

So now she's on cefdinir once a day and is taking tobramycin ear drops 3 times a day. Hopefully her hearing will return to normal shortly.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Arizona's State Health Care: The Good And The Bad

Me and the state of Arizona have been duking it out over health insurance since last May when dh lost his job back then. The program, AHCCCS, is a really great program once you can jump through the hoops to get in... but getting through all the bureaucracy is a mess. Today, I thought my woes with getting into their system would be over... but no such luck. I have to call them on Tuesday and yell at them (not literally, but figuratively).

We are previous customers of the Arizona state health care system. They know who we are, we have insurance cards, etc. I do want them to verify who everyone is and if they are eligible. Last year we had to show them our passports to verify that we are US citizens. Great! Since this program is tax-subsidized, I don't want to have to pay for non-citizens to get in this system.

The problems started in January when dh started working for the state. They have a good health insurance program, so we went with their program, as I'd rather not use the state's program if I don't have to. I suppose since he was working for the state, the health insurance money came from the same source, but I guess that doesn't matter. Even though that was what we were supposed to do, it turned out to be a big mistake.

When dh lost his job, I immediately went to the office to reapply for health insurance. They told us that my son still had health insurance and was never dropped from coverage (since he is an infant under 1 year old, he had no premiums).

Later on that month, I took my baby to the doctor, using our health insurance card that supposedly he had. The doctor told us that he didn't have any coverage... so I used my other health insurance card from dh's job that was supposed to have been expired. Funny how the expired health insurance card worked, and the "active" health insurance card did not.

My dh got a new job about a week later, and about a month after that, we were told that they would deny us for health insurance if we didn't apply for unemployment and food stamps as well. What one has to do with another I don't know. So we were denied and we had to reapply.

Another month passes... around early August we find out that finally we were approved for health insurance. Everyone except for my son... who was supposed to be covered all along but now is still stuck with no insurance. So I call the office to find out what was going on.

Me: I'd like to find out why my infant son wasn't approved for coverage.
AHCCCS: You'll have to talk to your eligibility specialist, Nicole. Here's her number... lemme transfer you.
[transfer goes to a number that doesn't exist. I try calling the number myself and nothing]
[I call back]
Me: I'd like to find out why my infant son wasn't approved for coverage.
AHCCCS: He wasn't approved for coverage because he already is approved for Medicaid.
Me: I've been to the doctor twice for him and they keep telling me that he doesn't have insurance.
AHCCCS: You'll have to talk to your eligibility specialist, Nicole.
Me: I already called her at xxx-xxx-xxxx. The number doesn't work.
AHCCCS: oh she has a new number. It's xxx-xxx-xxxx. Let me transer you.
[transfer doesn't work. I call the number back and nothing.]
[so I call back]
Me: I would like to find out why my son wasn't approved for health insurance. I already tried calling my eligibility specialist and she is not answering her phone.
AHCCCS: Let me transfer you to her supervisor then. His number is xxx-xxx-xxxx.
[transfer goes to an answering machine. I leave a message and nobody calls back.]

Tuesday afternoon
Me: I would like to find out why my son doesn't have coverage.
AHCCCS: Let me transfer you to your eligibility specialist, Nicole...
[of course the number doesn't work. Third call to them for the day is a little different...]
Me: I'd like to find out why my son wasn't approved for health insurance coverage. He doesn't have coverage with Medicaid even though he is supposed to. I've already tried calling my eligibility specialist but she never answers her phone. I've already tried contacting her supervisor but I get his answering machine and he doesn't call back.
AHCCCS: Let me look up your account and see if I could help... [pause] he was disapproved for coverage because he's eligible for Medicaid, but he doesn't have that either. Let me make a note in your account and flag it to say that he needs coverage.
Me: Thank you. I also have to change my income. Can you help me with that too?
AHCCCS: Oh, just fax your letter to xxx-xxx-xxxx.
Me: Thank you!

Nicole calls. I guess they were changing her phone system over. They're supposed to add coverage for my son and reflect my income changes.

We get a letter 4 days later saying that he has been added and our income change has been noted.

So my question is... if they already knew who we were, why did it take a month and a half to review our paperwork in the first place? Especially when they can add my son and change the income amount in less than a week?

Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there. Our first day that we're supposedly eligible for coverage is today, September 1st. So I take my dd to urgent care to have her ears looked at since she's had an ear infection for well over a month now. We have been counting down the days until this day. We show up in the morning, wait around for an hour... and are told that our insurance card is not active.

Oh yes, I'm doing some (nice) yelling on Tuesday. This is ridiculous.