To the Old Dominion State

I will be spending the next ten days in Lynchburg, VA and am not planning on blogging during this time.


Mr. Da Vinci Code is Writing Another Langdon Novel

Dan Brown, whose website is quite clever, is working on a new novel.

In keeping with his fascination with symbols, codes, and clandestine societies, Brown is not sharing much about this forthcoming book except to say that it will be set in Europe and that Harvard prof Robert Langdon will be in it.

No doubt, though, it will feature a feminist heroine, art history, and tall tales about Christianity, as this unholy trinity has made the best-selling author (and his publisher) filthy rich.


Lori Anne Madison: 6-year-old Qualifies for Scripps Nat'l Spelling Bee

She is the youngest contestant in the history of the bee!

Meet Lori Anne Madison of Woodbridge, Virginia, who is a precocious prodigy.

And an angelic-looking one at that.

The AP reports: "She hit all her milestones early, walking and talking well before others in her play group. She was reading before she was 2. She swims four times a week, keeping pace with 10-year-old boys, and wants to be in the Olympics. When her mother tried to enroll her in a private school for the gifted, the headmaster said Lori Anne was just way too smart to accommodate and needed to be home-schooled."

Right on, Headmaster. Right on, Mom and Dad for taking that advice to heart.

Lori Anne's winning word in the regional contest: Vaquero. Spanish for cowboy. Yeehaw!

Besides being a competitive swimmer, she is also a bookworm. The Bee begins later this week.

Watch her spell a long word in this video.

R U Having An Enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend?

William Jasper: "As a nation and as individuals we can never offer sufficient thanks to ... the families of those have fallen in service to our country to compensate for their tremendous loss, but we can — and must — try to honor the fallen by reverencing their commitment to duty, honor, and country, and by reading, understanding, upholding, and defending our Constitution, which is the palladium of our freedoms."

Memorial Day Poppy


Sun. Inspiration: NavPress LifeChange Bible Studies

For the past 6 weeks, I've been reading and pondering the book of Exodus. If you are unfamiliar with the Old Testament, it's the account of Moses and the Israelites' journey from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land.

I've been using a study booklet (from the NavPress LifeChange series) that was created by the publishing arm of the Navigators.

The Navigators are an interdenominational Christian ministry that was founded in the 1930s by a Californian named Dawson Trotman. Mr. Trotman taught Sunday School, ministered to youth groups, and also had an outreach to sailors in the U.S. Navy. He was known for encouraging folks to memorize Scripture.

So back to my impression of the Exodus booklet - it is brimming with historical information (like tidbits about the Tabernacle), chock-full of study questions, methodical, nearly 170 pages long, and even includes maps. To boot, NavPress has avoided the PC claptrap that currently permeates InterVarsity Press Bible study booklets.

If you are interested in material that breaks down and clarifies confusing Scripture passages, is theologically sound, and encourages one to 'dig deep', I highly recommend the LifeChange series.

Here are several of their best sellers.


No. Michigan Homeschoolers Are Among Top Archers in the Nation


Some of the Northwoods Christian Homeschoolers in the photo.

Friday Fun: Homemade Popsicles

I have not one, not two, but three sets. One for the concord grape ones, one for the coconut-pineapple ones, and one for the mango ones.

Here's over a hundred recipes.


Carnival of Homeschooling 334

The Floatin' Down the River edition.

Like a Dwelling From a Fairytale

Today I'm getting a little tour of the inside of the local "Limestone Cottage." It is 100 years old and was built by a master stone builder. It features a cobbled-stone courtyard and an "ice house." Very well maintained, and the landscaping is first-class.

The cottage abuts a state forest, but it's located right on the bike path.

It looks like a home fit for hobbits, or for hobbits who want to stay fit.

“Not all those who wander are lost.”J. R. R. Tolkien


Amherst Town Meeting Votes to Not Support Secure Communities Program

In latitudinarian Amherst, Massachusetts, the local legislative body makes a decision: "The 254th Annual Town Meeting ... easily adopted a resolution addressing the Secure Communities program ...

Under the Secure Communities program, fingerprints taken from a criminal are turned over to the FBI, who share them with the Department of Homeland Security.

But according to the resolution adopted, police and town officials to the 'extent permissible by law, shall not participate in federal law enforcement programs relating to immigration enforcement, including but not limited to, Secure Communities, and cooperative agreements with the federal government under which town personnel participate in the enforcement of immigration laws ... ' "

Even card-carrying liberals, like Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX and in the photo), support this program.

I hope the Amherst PD blows off this anti-S-Comm directive.

P.S. The woman who promoted this idiocy - Ruth F. Hooke - is also the ol' gal who lobbied to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to Amherst.

She should be forced to relocate to Nuevo Laredo if she proposes another one of these 'put-innocent-people-at-risk' petitions.

Update: Video of Ruth (who is in her eighties) being a busybody.

What? No Candy?

Behold. Another classless labor union leaderette. This is Donna Dewitt, in the vid., whacking a piñata featuring the visage of Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina.

Just coz the GOP governor said: “We’ll make the unions understand full well that they are not needed, not wanted and not welcome in the state of South Carolina.”

Good for her!

(The gov., that is, not the leaderette.)


Persecution of Christians in Nigeria

Doug Bandow writes about his latest column, "There is a religious crusade ongoing, and it's being carried out in Nigeria. Against Christians. The radical Boko Haram is targeting Christians and anyone who stands in the way of their murderous activities. So far the Nigerian government has not been able to stem the violence. It is a frightening reminder that religious persecution still exists, and that Christians today are the most numerous targets. Nigeria also is at risk as a unified country."

Here's the link to Doug's piece on this troubling news.

Boko Haram means "western education is forbidden."

Miss Oklahoma Becomes Mrs. Walters

Aloha! Emoly West, the homeschooler turned Miss America contestant, recently married Mr. Nathan Walters. The couple is honeymooning in Hawaii. Aloha!


Facebook & the Market: 'Like' How He Analyzed the Situation

A word, from Mr. Robinson, about Facebook's stock plunging below IPO price:

"The Facebook IPO didn't quite reach the classic tulip bulb mania level of insanity. But, still, what were people thinking? After the first flush of exuberance and a weekend to sober up, the market has sent FB stock down almost 12% and still its P/E ratio is a dizzying 77. Fork over something like $33.65 and you're buying $0.43 in earnings per share. I guess the rubes think this is going to be another ground floor Apple or Microsoft type opportunity. But, Facebook doesn't produce anything. I suspect that it has already peaked as a social/cultural institution. Still, alot of people have made alot of money. Sine our money is an increasingly doubtful consensual hallucination, why shouldn't the stuff people invest in be equally fantastic?"

A Real American Thinker

Another logically-argued column from Selwyn Duke about the political realities of the new demography.

Props to the American Thinker for publishing his work, as I doubt Breitbart, NRO, Human Events, Daily Caller, etc. would. For that matter, NumbersUSA, FAIR, or the Center for Immigration Studies wouldn't appreciate his spiritual bent, either.

One for Minnesotans, North Dakotans, and Yoopers

UP humor with Joe Mauer (the baseball player) and Scott Van Pelt (the ESPN anchor).

BTW: The Artist Formerly Known as Prince was born in Minneapolis.


Sun. Inspiration: Bryan Clay, Decathlete

Meet Bryan the articulate Olympian and a compact hulk. His Christian testimony, which he shares in this video, is grittier than the usual fare/cliches from religious athletes.

You may recall that Bruce Jenner Kardashian was also a decathlete.


Celebrating Spring & Smelling the Roses Lilacs

Can't resist picking the ones that grow wild ...

if only their fragrant blooms weren't so short lived ...

nevertheless ... I am celebrating their return ... brief as it is.

Sat. Sighting: Spotted in Wisconsin


Friday Fun: Best Cheese Ball Evah!

My buddy Hannah made me one of these for Mother's Day. (It was rounder when I first received it. Like a little mouse, I've been nibbling away at it.)

The ingredients are: cheddar cheese, green onions, dried beef, and northern Michigan can do. I brought one to some co-workers, awhile back, and they scarfed it down. Even the fussy foodies in the group deemed it delish.

Paging Food Network or Martha Stewart Living - you oughta showcase Miss Hannah's culinary talents and her chatty persona.

That's Hannah in the photo preparing an iced coffee. Girlfriend is also an effective barista.


RIP: Donna Summer

"Someone left the cake out in the rain. I don't think that I can take it. Because it took so long to bake it. And I'll never have that recipe again."

I never understood those cryptic baking references in "MacArthur Park." But, growing up in Miami in the 70s and being no fan of heavy metal, I did get that no entertainer did catchy disco tunes like Ms. Summer.

Sure, it wasn't morally edifying music, nor did it have any serious social value. But, in retrospect, Donna, a pop culture phenom, was tame compared to the declasse Rihannas and Ke$has of today.

Batmobile Coming to the Wolverine State

Look at the sharp, new paint job on the #88 Chevrolet car that Dale Earnhardt Jr. drives for Mountain Dew.

This 'batmobile' will debut at the Michigan International Speedway (located in Brooklyn :) next month.

Junior, who is a fan of the caped crusader, is also going to be wearing a Dark Knight firesuit for the occasion.

Danica Patrick as Catwoman, next? Kyle Busch as the Joker?

Sidebar: Bidders wanted.


NR's Latest Issue: Artwork + Political Message

= a slammin' cover ... click on it, or touch it.

How NR describes it: "Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is fighting for his political life, as he faces a June 5 recall election instigated by public-employee unions. The race is widely regarded as the second most important American election in 2012."

The stakes are high for the snake-slayer of the Badger State. May the force be with him.


OK Labor Commissioner Takes on WI Big Labor

My former Sooner State neighbor is in Wisconsin, today, publicly supporting Gov. Scott Walker, who faces a recall election next month.

From the press release: "Labor Commissioner Mark Costello (pictured, right) announced from Racine, Wisconsin that he is in Wisconsin campaigning for Governor Scott Walker. Walker is the subject of a militant union inspired, and funded, recall effort over pension and collective bargaining reforms. Walker's reforms have turned a $3.5 billion deficit into a $300 million surplus without raising taxes.

Walker has dominated the political debate on a national level by correcting unsustainable pension liabilities and generous benefit packages that were leading Wisconsin into bankruptcy. He also brought about needed collective bargaining reforms of unionized government workers.

As Walker heads into the final stretch of the union-funded recall effort, Costello is joining campaign efforts today in Racine, Wauwatosa, and Germantown. On Tuesday, Costello will campaign for Walker in Fond du Lac, Appleton, and Green Bay. Costello will be making campaign appearance at volunteer victory centers in support of Governor Walker.

Costello stated, 'Governor Walker is a nationwide hero of the taxpayer. 'It is a privilege for me, as Oklahoma Labor Commissioner, to campaign for a person of exceptional courage.' "

Well done, Commissioner! Too bad many denizens of the Sooner State have sold out to the unions. Note the negative comments about Mark's trip (which he paid for, btw), here.

Photo Update:
Credit: Jim M.

Small Town America's Avengers

Last night I caught the Avengers movie at the local Petoskey cinema. The projector died, just as Loki was beginning his nasty deeds. Yo? While the glitches were being fixed, the moviegoers waited without making a peep and without complaining.

(Tip: If you haven't seen the movie and plan to, stay, for a minute or two, after the final credits scroll.)

After the flick, a pleasant, arthritic woman slipped out of her wheelchair and landed flat on her back in the parking lot. Fortunately she wasn't seriously hurt, and a small crowd gently guided her back in the chair and into her car. She even had a escort (from among the moviegoers) to the nearby, excellent hospital (to check the nasty bruises on her arm).

If that wasn't enough small town drama (real life and make believe) for one night, it turned that, around dinnertime, a fire had burned down one of the beautiful million dollar vacation abodes in Bay Harbor (about four miles from the cinema). As a result, two other opulent homes experienced fire and water damage, but, also fortunately, no one was harmed. Thanks to Petoskey's extremely efficient first responders, a serious situation was brought under control very quickly. (The photos, from my not-smart phone, are of the aftermath of the fire, when the excavating crew showed.)

The end.

Update: Video of the fire, and nasty snark from an 'Occupy' type. Meanwhile, Revolut2012 is on a roll.


Emily Among the Sheeple

Emily O'Neill's (gorgeous gal in the photo) opinion piece at the DC begins like this: "When I was twelve, my mom took me out of public school and homeschooled me. I chose my own reading list and learned all I could about politics, law, and history. Eventually my mom didn’t have to call meetings at the kitchen table to check on my progress. I wanted to learn — and I wanted to arrive at my own conclusions.

Outside the constraints of public school, I was free to think. Two years later, I returned to public school to make new friends. I ended up making very few. I couldn’t stand public high school and did everything I could to limit my time there. I was homeschooled for some classes, participated in a charter school program, and spent afternoons at a vocational school. School wasn’t about learning; it was about fitting in to maintain a status quo. Though I was full of opinions, I didn’t have an outlet to voice them.

During college, I found ways to express my views and met like-minded friends through political activism. Then a curious thing happened: I no longer felt silenced by an institution — but by my own peers. Students often groaned and whispered to one another when I raised my hand in class. Although it didn’t prevent me from being one of the few students to offer my opinion during lecture, I felt pressured to keep my mouth shut."

Read the rest here. It's tough going for an independent mind American to 'fit in' yet ... it appears that her education experiences, negative and positive, helped to solidify her opinions about mass schooling. I'm glad she has found a supportive forum to share them.

Update: Speaking of cutie-pie, smart-as-a-whip girls, read about Kayla's memory feat that was sweetly rewarded by her mom and dad.

Slavery in Mauritania

The parched land that justice forgot. Go here, and be thankful for our civilized way of life.

The Long Tentacles of Planned Parenthood

PP: The Nation's Largest Abortion Provider

How sad that conservative Big Sky state taxpayers, who morally oppose a scheme aimed at encouraging premarital sex among immature minors, are stuck with the bill: "A Montana District Court ruled earlier this week that teens in enrolled in the Montana Children’s Health Insurance Program have the right to birth control to prevent teen pregnancy."

And this: "The Planned Parenthood Federation of America appealed to the courts saying that denying birth control coverage for teens enrolled in CHIP was "unconstitutional.' "

How sad, also, that the Belgrade News' new reporterette wrote such a slanted article.


Sun. Inspiration: My Name is Stephanie Nielson, & I Am a Mother

And what a mommy is this spirited, strong young woman who has such an endearing way of expressing herself.

Here's more about Stephanie's story of superhuman perseverance after a horrifying small airplane crash, in Arizona, left her badly burned. Have a hankie or two ready.

Happy Mother's Day!


Sat. Sighting: Satin & Organza Skirt

A girly skirt for mom, and it's on sale at Beautifully Modest.


Friday Fun: Bejeweled

This is a screenshot of "Diamond Mine" in the Bejeweled series which, according to WikiP, is enormously popular: "More than 75 million copies of Bejeweled have been sold, and the game has been downloaded more than 500 million times." The sparkling gem tile matching game was created by PopCap in 2001, and it is the epitome of mindless fun, but, at least, it's appropriate for 'everybody' from grandma to grandkids.


The Very Rich Really Are Very Different

The Romneys can buy anything they want - from national elections to wombs.

From the CSM: "Tagg Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's oldest son, announced Friday that he has newborn twin sons. Tagg Romney tweeted 'big thanks' to the surrogate who gave birth to the twins. David Mitt and William Ryder were born on Friday."

These are grandkiddos 17 and 18 for Ann and Mitt. Tagg (born in 1970) and his wife, Jen, already have four children, and this is the second time they have used a surrogate.

Here's a photo of Tagg with one of the twins.

Shaking my head, while I mutter, "This one is above my pay grade."


One Reason for Those High Gas Prices

Petroleum engineer and Constitution Party leader Thom Holmes asks, "Is your wallet feeling the sting of the rising gasoline prices? Mine sure is! Do you wonder why and what is causing it? We heard predictions at the beginning of this year that gasoline would set records for high prices this year which seemed pretty odd to me. However, several companies had already made known their plans to reduce the gasoline refining capacity in the East Coast region by 50% because those aging facilities were unprofitable. No matter what the product is, if you reduce capacity by 50% then it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to predict a rise in prices."

Now here's another rational commentary from a CP member. Rick Kiesz vows, "I will always vote NO on any school bond that appears on a ballot. There is no evidence that more money spent on 'government' schools turns out a smarter student, but there are many schools that turn out smarter students with LESS money."

I wholeheartedly agree, Rick, and exercised my right to vote 'no,' yesterday, in a 'special' school election in my community.

This placard appeared in a Missouri campaign, but all fed-up taxpayers can sympathize with the message


The European Fiscal Compact's Irish Critics

It's remarkable how the achievements of two past political leaders - one who is dead and one who suffers from dementia - remain the gold standard of terrorists and/or socialists who wish to hurl insults at proponents of fiscal conservatism.

Consider this snippet from the Irish Times: "SINN FÉIN leader Gerry Adams has depicted supporters of the European fiscal compact treaty as Thatcherite and Reaganite right-wingers.

He said yesterday that the choice facing the Irish public in the referendum on May 31st was between austerity and growth.

Proponents of the treaty, he said, were coming from 'a Thatcherite and Reaganite right-wing conservative ideological position'. The Louth deputy was speaking at the launch of the party’s campaign to urge a No vote on polling day. A pamphlet, Austerity isn’t working, was also launched by the party."

Some of that was inside baseball, and, as informed Americans are aware, Fedgov grew quickly during Reagan's watch, but I'm sure you get the point that Europe's massive economic and political woes are not going to be resolved anytime soon. Too much division.

Sidebar: If you haven't seen the movie The Iron Lady, please don't bother. The plot is a muddled mess, and the acting is terrible. Mrs. Thatcher (as played by drama queen extraordinaire Meryl Streep) is a dressed-to-the-nines bossy boots feminist ideologue.

The Iron Lady's rise from grocer's daughter to prime minister is a worthy subject for a decent biopic, but this wasn't it. Even the wacky, liberal Helena Bonham Carter (the actress in the The King's Speech) would have made a better Maggie Thatcher. Oh, well.


Conventional School Accomodates Home Scholars

Possible best of both worlds: I appreciate how this Christian K-12 school in Forest, Virginia also caters to homeschoolers and adjusts their tuition rates, accordingly.


Sunday Inspiration: Servant or Advisor?

Dan Delzell, a Luthern minister, gently chides fellow believers.

He asks, "What about you? Are you God's servant, or His advisor?

If I am God's advisor, I just need to get Him to see things my way. After all, it all revolves around me. My agenda. My goals. My schedule. My plan."

Me. Me. Me. I. I. I. Boring. Boring. Boring.

Narcissists (or Joel Osteenites) be warned: Christianity is all about self-denial.

Matthew 16:24 records Jesus' words, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

Difficult? Yup. Impossible? Not with God's grace. And there's a blessing for those who elect to live by faith: "Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:39).

Read Pastor Delzell's column. It will cause pilgrims committed to making spiritual progress to knowingly smile.

In the photo: Indian Mission Church near downtown Petoskey (in the foggy weather)


Death to the Pioneering Woman

In case you missed the much-ridiculed interactive time line/composite American woman that the Obama Admin. is touting to show how (statist) chick friendly the Prez is ... go here.

Cradle to grave socialism for Julia

Emily's dissent.

Sat. Sighting: Miniature Books for Sale at Etsy

For collectors, for dollhouses, and for those who treasure itty-bitty items. Here's one. Some sonnets. Dickens! A Medieval Illuminated open book. Postcards, too.

Mini fairytale

There's also a Miniature Book Society. (Extra strong reading glasses advisory.)


Unemployment Rate: 8.1 %

Today, the Bureau of Labor Stats released its monthly employment report.

Here are the numbers for April, 2012.

Friday Fun: Taking Back the Hoodie

That's me, yesterday, in front of the Petoskey Public Safety Dept., wearing an unfashionable hoodie.

How unfashionable, you ask? It has the words "Great Lakes" printed on it and includes a picture of a moose and pine trees.

Maybe in another life I would have donned one that read "Justice" arranged in multicolored Skittles.

But I now leave the cause célèbres to the Geraldos of the world and wear my hoodie to keep warm, as I take in the fog over the bay and pause my walk to watch the steelhead run.


The Dark Knight Rises: A Trailer

Caped Crusader alert:


331st Carnival of Homeschooling

The pioneer edition which includes apropo photos to compliment (or is that complement?) the theme.

Stossel In the Classroom Essay Contest Winners

Once again I was an evaluator for investigative reporter John Stossel's annual essay contest for students ages 13-18.

The 2011-2012 topic: "Politicians Promises Gone Wrong." (Based on this video series.)

Once again the first place winner is a homeschooler. Congratulations to Madeline Peltzer, age 13, of Laveen, Arizona. (Note: Contest evaluators don't know the educational background of the youthful contestants when they agree to read the essays.)

In fact, the top five winners are home scholars, although the contest also attracted private, charter, and public school students. Nearly 4000 essays were submitted this year.


To Produce or to Criticize: That is the $50,000 Question

Jeff Carter, independent speculator, has an observation and a revelation on student debt and fluffy college degrees:

"Students didn’t make major choices that would teach them how to be productive. Instead, many of them gravitated to soft majors. Soft majors might make good debaters, but they don’t make good engineers and mathematicians. The future economy will be driven by engineers and scientists that can create. There is room for some critical thinkers that can sell, but I find many of the soft major kids don’t like that either. They congregate into jobs provided by NGO’s or government. That’s non productive.

The government subsidies, and the other forces have obscured real world market forces that would have driven different choices by students. Ironically, in a world where businesses can borrow for practically nothing, students are looking at borrowing at 6.8%. Only in government …

We are rapidly reaching a breaking point. How efficient is it to borrow money to pay $50,000 plus per year for a degree in something like Women’s Studies, or other soft major? Where do we engage people with this skillset to accomplish something productive in the macro economy that brings us the next leap forward? Instead of training creators, we are creating critics. It seems to me that criticism is the only skill the soft major people have."

Mark Meuser for (CA) State Senate

Chris D. informed me that Mark Meuser, who has a homeschooling background and is a fiscal conservative, now wants to be a professional politico. Chris also says that "Mark authored the initiative to make life at conception the law in CO."

Here's his website.

This bio bit reveals Mark's (pictured below) admirable work ethic: "By age 15 he was in a management position at a local restaurant. By age 21, he purchased his own pizza restaurant.

While his restaurant business was thriving, Meuser began studying law. He graduated with honors from the Oak Brook College of Law."

An up-and-coming Alex P. Keaton