Archive for June, 2014

“C” is very important to you

Taking calculus in college was a transition for me. Sloppy math work was a detriment to me as it is to my oldest. I was forced to provide detailed work compared to what I did in high school. There was one part of calculus that I learned very quickly.

The letter “C” has no special value to people unless they are taking calculus. “C” is a constant that no one cares about. That is until you lose a point for forgetting about “C”. For those homeschooling families teaching calculus to their children, do not forget about the letter “C”. This is a constant you apply to the end of your answer when you integrate. If you integrate (2x)dx, your answer is x^2 + C. That “C” becomes a single point for most. If you’re lucky it is 1/2 point. My son learned this the hard way. After losing some points he basically etched into himself in order to remember. Thing was, he forgot the “C” in the next calculus class.

Never forget “C” when taking calculus.

Categories: Homeschool, Math Tags: , ,

June 28, 1914

Franz Ferdinand and wife Sophie were brutally assassinated by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo.

Princip was disappointed in his missed opportunity to assassinate Ferdinand and entered place for a bite to eat. Ferdinand’s driver made a wrong turn down the wrong road. As he tried to maneuver the car it stalled thus altering history. Princip, to his surprise, saw the intended target that was thought to be out of reach for him earlier took the opportunity to kill them.

Do not judge Gavrilo until you look at his point of view, but his action would start the massacre of millions and create what we see not only in the Balkan region but the Middle East. The French and British in their greed after the first world war re-arranged the Middle East to their desires thus ignoring the people living in the area. This is our current problem in Iraq. You have three groups fighting for their own independence as well as other issues going on.

For me, allow these three groups to fight each other until the balance is met. Iraq will no longer exist but three new nations will exist. It will be painful for us to watch, I agree. Is it not their right to create their own countries? Maybe a pan-Arabic state would be best for the other groups in the region.

This is the connection from present to the past. This is history.

Homeschool Travel Books

Years ago at a homeschool convention, the Educator and I were looking for information on our locals states. It was May and the summer was coming up. This was an ideal time for trips that require warmer weather. I can tell you, visiting the Flight 93 National Memorial on a blustery winter day is not the most comfortable feeling. We stumbled upon a small booth and discovered a series of books by a family. This would be the only time we would see these people at this convention.

Our first purchase was “Kids Love Pennsylvania” by George and Michele Zavatsky. The book is a guide book of what there is in Pennsylvania. The book is broken out into areas such as the Central Area or South West Area an so on. These are put into chapters. There is even a master index and activity index. You can find a map of the state as well as a map of state broken into areas. Your children can learn the counties of the state as you travel. There is a city index which displays what area each city is in. At the beginning of each chapter, family favorites are listed. How nice is that?

Take Chapter One, the Central Area, as an example. The initially list Horshoe Curve near Altoona, Allegheny Portage Railroad in Gallitzin and even Penn State as some of their favorites. You can see a small area map covering ten counties. The following pages give information on sites such as state parks, museums and even sports teams in the area. You’ll find their address, phone number and website along with a little blurb about the attraction. Maybe during your travel you want to stop at Delgrosso’s Amusement Park for a day. It is in there.

Towards the back of the book you can find a seasonal and special events section. In July can you can find the South Central information for the Battle of Gettysburg among other fun events.

These books are worth reviewing to see if they fit in your plans. We have used this book not necessarily for travel but for history research. It is nice to find some destination pertaining to the revolutionary war and then visit their website to glean information. It may be a small out of the way place that remains unknown until you discover it in these books.

Vist and discover this way of learning about America.

Rules of Algebra

What I see and hear in the colleges is a common observation and occasional complaint from math professors. Students do not know their algebra. Blame it on Common Core or Fuzzy Math; the problem continues to exist. Public schools are not correcting the problem, and private schools are not aware they have this issue to an extent. I am even certain homeschoolers have the same issue.

We do poorly with teaching algebra. I believe homeschooling parents become intimidated and allow their children too much free reign. No child is going to see the need to understand and learn the rules for algebra. It is a “set it and forget it” attitude. Mom and Dad see good scores but do not realize the missing pieces to the future math puzzle. This is why I may see more homeschooled student stray from the sciences. I hope not.

Schools have drifted away from the fundamentals to this critical thinking garbage. What good is critical thinking if you don’t know the rules? We can teach STEM and never see the results we want if the students do not know the fundamentals. Schools are more interested in science fairs or projects that truly teach little. The most it does is get a student interested in something they do not understand. Another problem with schools concerns those involved. We can lay blame on the teachers, students, parents and school district. They are looking for immediate results and not long term results. Sending teachers back to school does nothing to help education. Parents not monitoring their child’s schooling sends a poor message.

I can tell you that I was asked about school work every day growing up. My parents were involved in one way or another. They even got a tutor for me in math no less. They were involved and it was understood my schoolwork was first. A grade of B was tantamount to failure. The advantage I had over the school kids today is the lack of B.S. for me. There was none of this extra busy work given as we see in schools. There wasn’t a demand of community service. Community Service was separate from school and based on your family values.

There is a simple solution to the fundamentals. Practice, practice and practice. Quiz the student each day until they learn rules. I can still recall the rules from one of my math teachers in school where everyone was quizzed until they received a perfect score. This is what we need to do. I’ll go one step further. Have the child understand the proof. This takes more work but the reward far exceeds the effort. You can continue to quiz after algebra, too. I highly recommend this.

Science fairs and projects are not necessarily bad, but they should be done outside of the class during the weekend. You need to manage the available time for students. Evenings can be too busy. A few hours on Saturday is more appropriate. These events should not take up the entire time of the student. As a colonel of the army said to me recently, the academies are looking for youth who excel at what they like, play sports, music and do community work. This holistic approach is no different than what universities are starting to look for.

A final word to homeschoolers. Sign your child up for baseball, basketball, AYSO or some type of sport. Schools want a well-rounded student. Having great grades is not enough. Seek the organized sports for they are known. Do community service and not just through your church. There is a large bias against religion unless it is a religious affiliated school.

Soccer Dreams

To hear all the hype, American are head over heels in love with soccer. There is a European fear the Americans may finally be waking up and preparing to dominate. As a casual fan of soccer, I see this in the media and internet.

Americans are not in love with soccer. Americans like sports and root on their American teams. There is nothing else to it. Having the Americans playing the in the early evening has increased fan coverage but this is due to nothing else sports related worth watching. As much as I like ice hockey, it is regional and so is basketball. We are watching because we are rooting for Americans. How many American know that some of these players could play for another country? Only the soccer fans know this.

Soccer’s fame is only fleeting, and after the final defeat the flame will die out. Nothing is going to change. Soccer popularity will continue to grow at the slow pace it has been growing. Oh, we’ll see a blip but really nothing more. The rest of the world can relax; America is not ready to take over.

This brings me to the insults Europeans, especially the British, throw on American soccer. There is always some condescending statement to be made when Americans succeed. Take the draw against Portugal. Plenty of insults and degrading comments by the Europeans. Inside these comments are made to dissuade Americans from soccer. “You’ll never be good” or “Americans can’t compete against England” or “Americans have little or no knowledge of Football but they will cheer anything with an American flag on it” are some of the statements made. Behind the nastiness is the fear. It is the fear they have when they know they’re going to get a butt-whooping and nothing can be done about it. They just don’t know when it will happen. There was true fear about the Americans beating the Portuguese in the soccer game. Excuses were prepared and even sent out in an attempt to explain away the American success. Soccer fans outside the U.S. know what is coming but not when. There is hope that all of the negative comments will ward off the U.S. from becoming a soccer power.

The reality is there are truths within these two groups. American soccer is growing and has been. It is not going to take over the U.S. any time soon or ever. That will require winning the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 World Cup. There is no 2015 cup to win so a steady pace of growth with continue. Americans are not good, yet. They didn’t beat a hindered Portugal and struggled against Ghana. The quality of the Americans are better than those of the past but not as good as some of the non-American professionals. There is truth to Americans not caring about soccer. We don’t no matter what the numbers of youth soccer players there are. Somehow they transition away at some point. Soccer does not own the country like football and baseball. It isn’t regional like ice hockey and basketball. The MLS has removed soccer from the backwater and brought it closer to the U.S. being the premier soccer destination as it was in the 1920’s. Could there be latent memories inside the European psyche.

Give it time. Soccer will arrive in America. People may be seeing the beginning. That is what they thought in ’94 and 2002. The future is open, so maybe the U.S. will win the cup in 20 years.

Categories: Sports Tags: ,

Important Computer Knowledge To Know

June 23, 2014 3 comments

People will ask me about what to teach their children when it comes to computers. They are your average adult with little computer skills other than what is required from work or email. Many have more smart phone skills than anything else. It is quite easy for me to name three items for their children to use. It comes in one package – Office.

The first item for their child is Microsoft Word. This is used everywhere and my oldest child has used this for his classes at the local university I use it at work though not as often as the other two. Have your child work with word. They need to know how to format what they are writing in word and even utilize tables.

The second item was my third a few years back but has now climbed to number 2 – PowerPoint. My oldest utilized this for presentations he has given to various organizations such as the local government. This comes in handy for scouting or other activities. My youngest is now experiencing the need for PowerPoint.

The third item can easily be considered number 2, and this is excel. This is the program I use everyday. My oldest needed to know how to use this at the university, too. There are sites with shortcuts to be gleaned. I see many people in the accounting side of things using this program. Even engineers get into the game with this. Why is this number 3? There is a point where this is limiting unless you know how to program. At the university, my oldest only needed to sum, add and copy the easy “stuff”. There was no complexity such as utilizing “if/then” statements in the individual excel cell or the VBA code. The real power with excel comes from the macros where programming is required. Though you can make a powerful tool, it can be a poor quality tool. That is another discussion.

Have your child write papers with word. Include homeschool labs with this especially if a table is required. Formulas and be implemented if you use the insert equation or symbol. PowerPoint is a great presentation format. Next time you are working on a homeschool project, this may be a nice method to show results. Your child can learn to add images and do slide layouts. Excel is nice too with homeschool labs. Your child should be able to utilize the cell functions at the least. If they like to program then implement the macros.

Are there any other computer skills needed other than working a computer? There are other software to use such as Paint.Net. These are not very important but are nice to be able to use.


I have been doing this little no-name blog for a few years in my spare time. This required me to scramble something together in a quick manner and post when the opportunity presented itself. Most of what I would begin to write became either obsolete or left unfinished because the lack of time. What time I had has now dwindled even more. As I look at my schedule, much of it has been taken by the activities of my family and exercising. Yep, I’ve been doing some exercising and that knocks a few hours off of my day. This forces me to produce even more haphazard posts. I used to cringe on a continual basis but now just shrug it off.

Even researching graduate schools has me wondering about my time. Looking at mathematics and history as a future opportunity, has me taking up more time than I have and afford. I’ll continue to research graduate schools and lean more towards history.

There are a few items in the works that I have not given up on. These are in the area of mathematics. One of which is to finish the logarithms. To write these out and scan the what I do or photograph takes time. The math is the easy part.

There is some history I would like to deal with in the future but that is more long term. Quick points such as my soccer drop doesn’t relay the right amount of information in a clear enough manner.

Homeschooling posts are still on my desk, too. There are some curriculum I wish to write about and maybe an update or two. There was the issue a few months back about some college professor I wanted to discuss in a homeschooling way. There is much to be done in this area.

As I finish this post, I hope Saturday will be a boon for me. I would love to spend some time constructing a great post that helps people instead of some drivel that doesn’t convey the intended meaning with ease.

Categories: Uncategorized