Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bears in the Bed

1 am There were two in the bed and the Ethan Bear said, "I feel sick, roll over."
2 am There were three in the bed and the Elle Bear said, "My bed's wet, roll over."
3 am There were four in the bed and the Hunter Bear said, "I'm lonely, roll over"
So they all rolled over and Daddy fell out
7am There were four in the bed and the Daddy Bear said, "It's light now...EVERYBODY OUT!"
So they all rolled out and momma stayed in
8am There were two in the bed and the Elle Bear said, "I'm hungry, come feed me"

Friday, December 21, 2007

In Loving Memory Virginia Bean

My Grandmother passed last night. She was 82. She had a miraculous recovery from ovarian cancer but died of a bladder infection less than a month after my Mom was asked to leave by her brother who then took over her "care". She had a prescription for the infection, but my Mom's brother, looking to his inheritance, never filled it.

This same brother rushed down with flowers and sympathy when they found out about the ovarian cancer, but then couldn't be bothered to let Mom and Grandma (who at that point had recovered significantly) stay with them, or even see them when they were in his town to see a specialist.

The circle of life is inevitable, but I could really do without all the vulture-type drama that surrounds this particular transition of life. I spoke to my Grandfather, a World War II veteran who cried openly on the phone to me. Looking back on her life, she was always so quiet while busy serving her family. She loved to read. She blushed when she told me the story of how she and Grandpa met and fell in love.

When I was six and she came out to Connecticut to help mom when my brother Mikey was born. She scolded me for using too much soap to wash my hands. I would stand there and pump until I had a handful of soap. I wanted to please her so I worked on it. When I felt like I was doing better I asked her to come watch me wash my hands. I only gave three pumps and felt so proud of myself. She said, "You're using too much soap." At the time I was really mad at her, but as we were leaving the airport for her to fly home I cried to see her go.

When I was ten I stayed with them for part of the summer. Grandma chased me around the yard because I refused to take a bath after several days. Grandpa finally caught me and talked me into it. She and Grandpa took us to the Oregon Caves, the logging mills, seedling farms, Crater Lake (They let us go swimming in our clothes...we insisted. They also let us walk back to the car soaking wet and cold. Consequences.) When it rained they let us go into the old pasture and jump around in the mud up to our elbows. What great fun! Grandpa was building a two story building and was excavating the dirt out of the bottom of it. James and I thought it was so much fun to go in and help dig out the dirt. After we got back home Grandpa called and said he missed his dirt diggers. I didn't realize he meant us, so my first thought was, "Well, I didn't take them."

We would spend every Thanksgiving up in Oregon. It was our family tradition. We'd shoot guns, ride motorcycles, walk through the woods, chase around on the Odyssey, and cut down our Christmas tree right before it was time to go home. As we got married and great-grandchildren got thrown in the mix Grandma and Grandpa's two bedroom one bath house seemed to shrink. The last Thanksgiving I spent up there I was pregnant with Elle. James & Kristi, Mikey and Paul were there and Daddy was still alive. You never fully appreciate moments so precious until they are an unreproducible memory.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A light in the darkness

On my way in the car today I was listening to KDFC, the local classical station. They played this was ....amazing. I wrote down the time it played so I could look up the information later.
The song was Sanctis by Libera Angel Voices. I found it and listened to it again. Then I listened to their other tracks.

I can't remember the last time music brought me to tears. It is like parting the veil of heaven itself and hearing choirs of angels. I am at a loss of words to adequately describe the beauty, joy, light and Spirit of God that this music swells within me. It resonates with my very soul. It is the sound of everything pure and beautiful in the world. It is the sound of innocence and faith. It is the sound of holiness.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Comedy or Tragedy?

It's been one of those weeks that I'd like to think that years from now I'll be able to look back on and laugh. It's been said that comedy is tragedy plus time. The following is not for those with a weak constitution. You have been warned.

At nine o'clock in the morning last Monday when we would normally be working on lessons Ethan said that he just wanted to go back to bed and sleep. He did...and slept until 2:30 with a brief interruption mid-morning to start throwing up.

Tuesday evening was touch and go. Ethan was up and feeling somewhat better, but again slept all day. And, yes...this was the day we decorated the Christmas tree.

By Wednesday he was feeling better. Just in time for Hunter to start throwing up. Hunter gets grossed out easily anyway. By Thursday evening Hunter was throwing up every 5 to 10 minutes. I think it was a combination of stomach upset and then being grossed out by throwing up. He couldn't keep anything down. I sat with him on the couch to hold his hand and held his head whenever he would throw up. I'd try to give him small bits of fluid hoping this time it would stay down. His tummy finally settled down at about 11:30 so I took him to bed with me just in case he needed anything during the night.

Friday evening he was feeling better, so while I was upstairs fretting over another crisis the children were downstairs making a swimming pool out of the wooden animal bin next to the Christmas tree. (They couldn't use the plastic bins that would have actually held the several gallons of water they brigaded into the living used the wooden one that leaked)

Not only that, but the heirloom Christmas ornaments were under attack by Elle who thought that the Santa in the train-car ornament from 1980 was for vvrooming across the bookcase and then sat and picked off the tiny details.

As I went into the kitchen to fetch the towels I could hear a drip....drip....drip. Closer inspection revealed that the children had opened the tap to the drinking water and had drained it entirely. It was probably what they used to fill their swimming pool seeing as how the floor beneath the tap was surprisingly unpuddled. When I filled it back up the first thing Hunter did was to open the spikett over the floor to see if anything would come out...which it did.

I got the towels from the linen closet to soak up the carpet which despite such an extensive usage of every towel in the house the floor was still unsatisfactorily damp. Michael was less than enthused when he had to use a hand towel the next morning after his shower as the sacrificial towels had not yet made it out of the washer and dryer.

After the wet was moped up as much as possible I decided that given the several assaults on the ornaments following the initial decorating this was the last straw. I decided that taking them off would be the best choice. The children were beside themselves, of course, feeling like I had unceremoniously canceled Christmas. I'm such a Grinch.

I got the box back out and put my ornaments back away leaving the nutcracker men as the only decorations on the I don't care too much if (or rather, when) they get broken.

Ethan still had quite a cough so while in the bath that evening he gagged and threw up in the bath water. Hunter thought that was gross and so he threw up. Not to be outdone, Ethan threw up again and Hunter matched his move by barfing once again in the now draining bathwater...that didn't seem to drain quite fast enough. They were both screaming and crying with phlegm and barf dangling from their faces and Elle was sitting in the middle of it....which is probably why on Saturday Elle started throwing up too.

I was in the kitchen Saturday evening when I heard Elle crying. Thinking that her brothers must be tormenting her, I found them first and asked what they were doing to their sister. Instead they were playing hide and go seek in the covers on my bed and Elle was nowhere near. I headed upstairs to find Elle sitting at the top of the stairs covered in throw up.

I got her cleaned up, hoping that she had just gagged on the fibers of the tangerine Michael had given her. Having seen the wonderful example from her brothers of how to execute the barf, the next thing I knew Elle was walking over to the garbage can and throwing up again. This continued all evening, although as the night pressed on she was less enthusiastic to use the garbage can thinking perhaps it's usage somehow contributed to the continued upset tummy. I ended up sleeping with her on the couch on a puddle pad next to the garbage can and bottle of water. Fortunately her tummy settled just before 1 am and we got a little bit of sleep. We stayed home from church the next day so as not to pass her germs on to the other nursery children.

As a side note...My mother went out of town on Thursday and asked me to take in her garbage cans and mail. It was a simple enough task, and I really thought I could accomidate her. However, since people hadn't stopped barfing all over themselves the first time I left the house all week was the Saturday she was expected home. I went up to her house hoping to accomplish everything she had asked, but when I got to her house the car was in the driveway, the mail was taken heart sank. She was already there and very angry that I had not kept my obligation. I felt horrible.

Just when you think all is well... So it's Monday again and Ethan started complaining of an upset stomach again. He's been throwing up since 5 o'clock. He missed his Tiger Scouts meeting. All I can wonder is if Hunter and Elle will have a similar week anniversary relapse. Let's hope not.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Anxiety at the Museum

Today was the free day at the De Young Art Museum in San Francisco. We made it a field trip out of it since we haven't been anywhere fun in a while. The children are used to going places, but the typical venue usually encourages plenty of hands-on interaction.

Habitot, for instance, celebrates messes. The Exploratorium would be highly insulted if you didn't handle everything in sight.

We discovered today that museums don't like it when you run, touch, stand too close, press your nose against the glass....breathe.

I'm fairly certain that they tagged us fairly early on (probably with some sort of ethically questionable age profiling...although when I suggested that, Aunt Kristi said she would impose leashes and tazers for children...or maybe that was just for my children). We had our own personal team of museum personnel following us around trying to be inconspicuous in their shadow tactics. The children didn't like not being able to fully "experience" the art. Someone was always right there to tell us what we were doing wrong....again. Although, I'm sure we gave our museum personnel plenty of anxiety in "close calls" of glass touching, shoulder riding, and rope ignoring. I know I had enough anxiety to last for awhile.

Grandma was saying as we went to lunch that the museum curator was spouting off how the De Young was a museum for all ages. Uh-huh... riiight. Read fine print: "all ages", 12 and up.

After lunch we took the children outside to get their pent up energy out. There were a few artsy sculptures out on the lawn of the cafeteria. Out in nature, you are on the children's turf. As a testament to this fact there was a rather large safety pin displayed on the lawn. ..and the black-ops team assigned to us did not follow us into the yard. Hunter, might be remembered does not read took it upon himself to approach some larger than life metal apples scattered all over the lawn and began kicking them with a particular vigor. He was getting the last few kicks in when we noticed the sign saying to please not touch the art. Figures.

We saw some works of modern art, which looked something like what Hunter brought home from Tiny Tots. Another room was full of piles of stuff, stacked tightly painted either all white or all black (Louise Nevelson). It did look kinda cool, but awfully simplistic.

I really hate to sound all negative...I guess at the end of the day full of child suppression times three and art museum anxiety it takes an extra little umph to recall that the day wasn't completely awful.

I prefer my art to be a reflection of master skill and craftsmanship, not something I could reproduce in a weekend. Reflecting on it now though, I probably couldn't come up with such an original idea as she did... so I guess the "modern" art is more the idea before the creation than the complexity in the expression of that idea. Is the art I appreciate is complicated, intricate, masterfully done? Yes! But, original? Not usually.

The top floor was full of plenty of beautiful sculptures and portraits to satisfy. I'd like to come back sometime with Michael and NO CHILDREN to look a little longer at certain things. The furniture woodworking was absolutely exquisite, but my favorites would have to be the marble sculptures. It's amazing to me that they can get something made of ROCK to look soft and billowy.

We saw a sculpture of Delilah. I reminded Ethan of the story from Superbook. "Meh..." We also saw the bucking bronco that we studied just a few weeks ago. I was so excited to see it in person, especially after having just studied it. Apparently Ethan wasn't that impressed, because he didn't remember it at all. Or maybe it's because it looked different to him in person than in a picture. Despite everything I would consider the day a success because the children did appreciate certain pieces of art. Hunter and Ethan found their favorite piece in the modern art section. What a surprise!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

While Daddy's away...

Michael and Jeremy went on a Bonzi run to Utah for a job.

While Daddy's away...the mommies will .....CLEAN! Note: Elle walked into my bedroom, looked at the pile of clean towels at the end of my bed waiting to be folded and put away and she looked at me and said, "Keen up!"

The shower in our bathroom needed some TLC, so I got some BAM, a sponge, a toothbrush and went to work. Despite my best effort the bottom track and bottom side of the door still was kinda gross. So I did something I've never done before. I took the shower doors off the track to clean them.

Ohhh! I scrubbed...I spayed....I was a veritable frenzy of sanitation. The shower doors and track have probably not been cleaner since the day they were first installed. I was getting in such a mood I was having delightful fantasies of going to Home Depot to get some wall spackle and some paint for the kitchen and bathroom walls which have been very much abused with baby gates and superhero races. The visions were dancing in my head as I was hanging the first shower door. Ahh...that looks SOOO much better. I was really getting revved up by the time I got my hands on the second shower door.

Easy....easy...just about got it...

Something went wrong. As I stood there with a 20 pound sheet of glass in my hands the whole thing shattered and sent beads of tempered glass all over the newly cleaned shower and bathroom floor.


Well, Michael will be surprised all right.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Spider Hunter

The boys have been devising a Justice League for 4 to 6 year olds since Halloween. They build forts in the living room on a daily basis and make it a point to get the big superhero books from the library full of plenty of color pictures....for research, of course.

Hunter decided that he wanted to emulate Spiderman and took it upon himself to draw the spiderwebs himself...

....ON himself

.....with a black marker

....a permanent one.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

First boingies

When I was little my mom used to put my hair into pig-tails or pony-tails. My hair has always been curly, so she would comb each pig tail around her finger and make a ringlet of hair on either side. She dubbed them "boingies". Elle's hair is long enough now to gather them into her very first little piggy-tails. They didn't last very long...she pulled them out when I wasn't looking.

As I was trying to take her picture, Michael kept encouraging her to stick her finger up her nose. What a pill!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Playing in the surf

We took a family trip to the beach at Pacifica since Daddy had to go anyway to look at a retaining wall job for the city. We had a picnic in the truck and watched the waves. Lo and behold there were a pair of dolphins playing in the surf! They were hard to spot, and despite all of our pointing Ethan never actually saw them.

The boys had great fun running away from the incoming surf. Hunter thought it was much too fun not to get a little wet...and then a little more. Then he practiced writing his name in the sand.

Ethan and I read a book about the Pilgrims and he was curious about the well they used to get their water. At the time I told him that if we went to the beach you could dig a hole away from the surf and it would fill with water from underneath. I reminded him of the conversation and we dug a hole and tried it out.

After all the flirting with the surf, both boys ended up with the bottom half completely wet so their pants, socks and shoes went home in the bed of the truck. They thought it was great fun until we got home and they had to go in the house in their underwear.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Must.... finish.... corn....zzzzzz

We had dinner at my mom's house. Elle hadn't had a nap all day and by the time dinner rolled around she was EXHAUSTED! Fortunately I had the camera and could catch her fight between sleep and the yummy corn. Her eyes are just SO heavy. That's Hunter (3) running laps behind her.

Monday, November 12, 2007

End of the Soccer season

This last Saturday was the last game of the season for Ethan's soccer team. He played on the Wild Horses and was one of 3 boys out of 10 players. I was the team parent and organized the end of the year party. The family that volunteered to host the party also wanted to get a bouncy house. They collected $150 for it. It was forecast to rain several days in advance with light sprinkles all day. The rain policy says you can cancel and get your money back. They didn't. The light sprinkles turned into rain that evening and not one kid actually went in it. I didn't want that $15 anyway.

I think overall it was a very good season. I kept score for a few games, but they have a no scoring policy in the younger leagues so as not to damage the fragile self-esteem of the little darlings. please.

Ethan was a great defender. Whenever the other team got control of the ball he would book it down to the other goal and block their attempts to score. It was absolutely amazing how fast he could get across the field. When they received trophies at the end, their coach described each player and had everyone guess who it could be. Ethan was described as Dash (like from the Incredibles) the Defender. He was definitely one of the best players on the team and certainly the fastest. He wasn't so good at offense, but we can always work on that next year. What a contrast from the beginning of the season when he'd go to practice and then come off the field all upset that another kid had taken the ball from him. "That's the whole point, honey! Go take it back from him!"

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween fun

Getting dressed up has got to be one of the best perks of childhood! Ethan found a store bought costume of King Peter of Narnia and carried the magazine picture around with him all month. I found the cutest flower costume for Elle that happens to be just like my online avatar for my alter-ego, Cookiemonsterette. Hunter is very into superheros... especially ones that go as fast as possible. I was glad that he was happy to be Superman (a recycled costume of Ethan's) Unlike last year...

The family theme last year didn't quite work as well as I'd have hoped. Elle made a cute TinkerBell and Ethan was very cooperative as Captain Hook, but Ethan's 3 year old recycled PeterPan costume went over like a lead balloon with Hunter. He didn't want to wear the hat, he didn't want to wear the shoes and he insisted on wearing a Batman cape, so everyone was very confused about the what exactly he was supposed to be. A green Batman?

Hunter was overcome with anticipation for Halloween this year. Singing songs all month at Tiny Tots about the upcoming fun was more than he could take and he started leaving preschool all upset and sad because Halloween wasn't here yet. Oh fantastic. I can't wait for Christmas.

Elle didn't like wearing the petal hood. At first taking pictures was nearly impossible, but then she realized the power of the flower at our first official Halloween activity of the costume parade and trick-or-treating on First Street. Everyone made an enormous fuss over her cuteness and gave her candy on top of it all. It got to the point that it was all I could do to keep her out of her costume during the day.

I was glad to have so many Halloween activities to go to so the kids could make the most of their costumes.

The night of trick-or-treating Elle scored more candy than both boys combined. When people came to the door she would scoot right up to the bowl and start putting in candy while the people were bent over admiring everyone's costume. I can't imagine that anyone would have stopped her. Who could say no to such a cute little flower?

As a general rule I let the kids eat as much candy as they can handle the first night. I can understand why most schools cancel school November 1st. Can you say, SUGAR RUSH!!! After the first night of binging I put the rest of it away for desserts after dinner. Once the kids stop asking for candy the rest of it goes in the garbage. By then it's usually the lollipops and coconut filled candies.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ever posing

This picture was taken this morning after Elle deftly disposed of her pajamas and climbed up on the kitchen table to read her favorite Mother Goose book. Her Aunt keeps telling me she ought to be one of those Baby Gap models. I'd agree with her, except Elle's favorite outfit is her birthday suit. Since her pajamas are the easiest to get out of, if I don't get her dressed right away I will most likely find her running through the house completely tickled with herself and her amazing ability to get OUT of clothing....they call her the streak....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pumpkin Patch 2007

As a family tradition we have made a yearly pilgrimage to the Pumpkin Patch. I suppose you could say it kicks off the holiday season for us. We go to the Pumpkin Patch in Dixon and every year it gets better and better. They have hay rides, free wagons to go out into the field and pick a pumpkin, a little playhouse village for the kids to run around and play, a haystack castle specifically to climb up and play on and a corn maze that won the Guinness Book World Record for largest Corn Maze in 2007. Michael's brother went through a smaller version a couple of years ago and it took him two hours to find his way out again. Perhaps when the children are older we'll venture inside, but at this point I'm afraid we would never see Hunter again. Everyone (i.e. the children) got to pick their own pumpkin and we got one extra, a big one to carve for Family Home Evening.

This year we went in the early afternoon instead of after dinner. It was light out, which was nice and we made a day of it rather than just an evening. As part of our tradition we go out for pie afterwards. We made the 2 o'clock meal lunch and dinner. Everybody got to pick a slice of pie which we all made little samples of and we got two whole pies to take home.

Since we had so much time we went to the Nut Tree Family Park and got the wristbands to go on everything. All the children loved the Merry-Go-Round, Ethan indulged me with a ride on the Roller Coaster and Elle even got to ride on the balloons. Grandma went with us. I think she had a good time, too.

Vote Ron Paul

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Body Worlds

We are studying physiology this year for Science. As a field trip we went to San Jose to see the Body Worlds. They were actual bodies donated and plastinated for preservation. The purpose was to see all the different parts of the body, recognize God's hand in it's creation and reverence the body as a temple. I made it very clear when we entered that these were REAL bodies and not just models.

Hunter didn't particularly like seeing the bodies. Perhaps because he prefers to be hands on, and I made it a point that he NOT touch anything. He gets grossed out fairly easily. After the fact he has said that the bodies were scary. Ethan said, "When I die, I don't want to come here." His favorite part, however, was the skateboarding body.

It was completely fascinating to see all the different systems isolated; skeletal, muscular, nervous, circulatory, respiratory... To see the body from perspectives otherwise hidden from view was amazing. On display were healthy lungs next to smoker lungs which were next to coal miner lungs. We were completely amazed at the damage to the coal miner's lungs.

For the months of September and October we are focusing on cells. Ethan's attention was really caught when we went over the beginning of life from a single cell. In the reproductive portion of the exhibit he was able to see first hand this development. There were embryos in various stages of development along with older fetuses. The only sadness that Ethan expressed to me during the whole Body Worlds exhibit was seeing the babies who never got to be born or grow up. He wanted to know why they died. I didn't have an answer, but reminded him of Jesus' role in our lives and the power of the resurrection...and he was comforted.

Throughout the exhibit there was a quiet sense of reverence demonstrated by everyone in attendance. There were no signs asking for the hushed tones and respect, yet the spirit that attended the exhibit was one that I have most often found in church meetinghouses.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Is Socialized Healthcare the answer?

Health Insurance Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be

Oct. 16, 2006

I'm appalled reading the results of the ABC News poll on health care:

"Nearly eight in 10 favor a federal requirement that all employers offer insurance to their full-time workers. Nearly two-thirds favor such a requirement for part-time employees as well."

ABC News and USA Today are offering solutions to the health care problems in America during our weeklong series "Prescription for Change." Watch for special reports all week on "Good Morning America," "World News" and "Nightline."

Why on earth would we want mandated insurance from employers?! Do our employers pay for our food, clothing or shelter? If they did, why would that be good? Having my health care tied to my boss invites him to snoop into my private health issues, and if I change jobs I lose coverage. Employer paid health insurance isn't free. It just means we get insurance instead of higher salaries. Companies only provide it because of a World War II-era tax break that never went away.

Anyway, insurance is a terrible way to pay for things. It burdens us with paperwork, invites cheating and, worst of all, creates a moral hazard that distorts incentives. It raises costs by insulating consumers from medicine's real prices.

Suppose you had grocery insurance. With your employer paying 80 percent of the bill, you would fill the cart with lobster and filet mignon. Everything would cost more because supermarkets would stop running sales. Why should they, when their customers barely care about the price?

Suppose everyone had transportation insurance. The roads would be crowded with Mercedes. Why buy a Chevy if your employer pays?

People have gotten so used to having "other" people pay for most of our health care that we routinely ask for insurance with low or no deductibles. This is another bad idea.

Suppose car insurance worked that way. Every time you got a little dent or the paint faded, or every time you buy gas or change the oil, you'd fill out endless forms and wait for reimbursement from your insurance company. Gas prices would quickly rise because service stations would know that you no longer care about the price. You'd become more wasteful: jackrabbit starts, speeding, wasting gas. Who cares? You are only paying 20 percent or less of the bill.

Insurance invites waste. That's a reason health care costs so much, and is often so consumer-unfriendly. In the few areas where there are free markets in health care -- such as cosmetic medicine and Lasik eye surgery -- customer service is great, and prices continue to drop.

The ABC News poll suggests that people understand that. When asked about "consumer directed plans," "nearly eight in 10 Americans think that allowing people to shop around for their own medical care would be an effective way to control costs." But many people still want a free lunch: "Consumer-driven care looks less popular if it's accompanied by the risk of higher out-of-pocket expenses."

Somehow people seem to believe "insured" means free.

This is not to say that we don't need insurance. We need it to protect us against financial catastrophes that could result from a stroke or heart attack. That's why health savings accounts, which cover smaller out-of-pocket health expenditures, are paired with high-deductible catastrophic insurance. That's a good thing. But today's demand from people that insurance cover everything from pets to dental work puts us on a slide toward bankruptcy.

In other terrifying news from the poll: "Three-quarters like the idea of expanding Medicare, the government program that covers retirees."

Great, let's bankrupt America even faster! Medicare already has an unfunded liability of $32.1 trillion -- that's how much more money the politicians have promised versus the amount the Treasury has to pay for it. The Medicare Trust Funds report says expenditures "are expected to increase … at a faster pace than either workers' earnings or the economy overall."

Do you think Social Security is going bankrupt? Well, yes, it is. But the Medicare liability is far greater. As more of us live longer, it will get even bigger. Yet the public wants more, and the politicians will probably vote to give it. As P.J. O'Rourke says, "Think medical care is expensive now? Watch how expensive it gets once it's free."

More bad news from the poll: "As far as the cause of higher health costs, the public's biggest suspicion is profiteering by drug and insurance companies -- 50 percent call this one of the single biggest factors. Fraud and waste, the cost of medical malpractice suits and doctors and hospitals making too much money also come in for substantial concern."

Fraud and waste are a concern. When third parties pay, regardless of whether it's government or private insurance, people find it easier and more tempting to cheat. No one spends other people's money as carefully as he spends his own. But "profiteering?" What the heck does that mean? Every company wants to make as much profit as it can. If an insurance company makes "excess" profit, other insurance companies will rush to compete in those areas; therefore prices will fall quickly.

And frankly, I want drug companies to make lots of money. The more they make, the more they invest in drug development that may someday cure my disease or ease my pain.

Finally, the worst news on the poll is that "56 percent support a shift to universal coverage."

Universal coverage sounds so nice -- no worries, no paperwork. Mommy and Daddy, usually in the form of government as single payer and manager, just take care of everything. Universal coverage in Canada and Europe is popular because no one has to worry about paying directly or filling out forms. But like all well-intended schemes of collectivists, it is becoming a cold, bureaucratized machine that does not serve people well.

It takes time for this to happen. At first, the eager government workers are the best and brightest -- they hire medical elites to guide people to the best care. But then civil service arteriolosclerosis sets in. It happens gradually, so people don't immediately notice what they are missing, (it took 70 years for the Soviet Union to fall).

A first sign: the waiting lines. Already, some people in England pull their own teeth because they can't stand the pain while waiting to see a dentist. "The problem is, I cannot suddenly just produce more dentists," said Prime Minister Tony Blair, when he was confronted by an elderly lady who'd pulled out seven of her teeth herself. In Canada, says David Gratzer, author of "The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care," "1.2 million Canadians are actively looking for a family doctor but can't get one because of the chronic shortages. A couple of towns hold annual lotteries with the winners getting to see doctors."

The American public seems to understand that care deteriorates under government control. The ABC poll says that while most people want universal coverage, "far fewer, ranging from 15 to 26 percent, think such coverage would actually improve the quality or cost of their own care, the availability of treatment, or their choice of doctors or hospitals. Indeed by 2-1, people think universal coverage would make the quality of their own care worse, and by better than 2-1 think it would worsen their choice of doctors or hospitals."

It would! It would! The poll writers call the public's attitudes "altruistic." "In a show of altruism, universal coverage is supported by a quarter of those who think the quality of their care and the availability of treatments would worsen."

Is that altruism? I call it an irrational and self-destructive fear of markets and competition.

For-profit medicine has given us vaccines and antibiotics that have extended our lives by decades. I want more! More pills to ease pain, more metal joints to keep me playing sports, more treatments for cancer and cures for heart disease. Socialized medicine slows heath care innovation to a crawl.

Capitalism isn't perfect. It allows inequalities, many of which seem unfair. And capitalism's uncertainties create anxiety. But universal care " creates its own anxieties and inequalities. Perfect isn't one of the choices. Foolish pursuit of free care is the enemy of good care.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Why I'm building Bridges Academy

The Public School Nightmare:
Why fix a system designed to destroy individual thought?
by John Taylor Gatto

I want you to consider the frightening possibility that we are spending far too much money on schooling, not too little. I want you to consider that we have too many people employed in interfering with the way children grow up--and that all this money and all these people, all the time we take out of children's lives and away from their homes and families and neighborhoods and private explorations--gets in the way of education.

That seems radical, I know. Surely in modern technological society it is the quantity of schooling and the amount of money you spend on it that buys value. And yet last year in St. Louis, I heard a vice-president of IBM tell an audience of people assembled to redesign the process of teacher certification that in his opinion this country became computer-literate by self-teaching, not through any action of schools. He said 45 million people were comfortable with computers who had learned through dozens of non-systematic strategies, none of them very formal; if schools had pre-empted the right to teach computer use we would be in a horrible mess right now instead of leading the world in this literacy. Now think about Sweden, a beautiful, healthy, prosperous and up-to-date country with a spectacular reputation for quality in everything it produces. It makes sense to think their schools must have something to do with that.

Then what do you make of the fact that you can't go to school in Sweden until you are 7 years old? The reason the unsentimental Swedes have wiped out what would be first and seconds grades here is that they don't want to pay the large social bill that quickly comes due when boys and girls are ripped away from their best teachers at home too early.

It just isn't worth the price, say the Swedes, to provide jobs for teachers and therapists if the result is sick, incomplete kids who can't be put back together again very easily. The entire Swedish school sequence isn't 12 years, either--it's nine. Less schooling, not more. The direct savings of such a step in the US would be $75-100 billion, a lot of unforeclosed home mortgages, a lot of time freed up with which to seek an education.

Who was it that decided to force your attention onto Japan instead of Sweden? Japan with its long school year and state compulsion, instead of Sweden with its short school year, short school sequence, and free choice where your kid is schooled? Who decided you should know about Japan and not Hong Kong, an Asian neighbor with a short school year that outperforms Japan across the board in math and science? Whose interests are served by hiding that from you?

One of the principal reasons we got into the mess we're in is that we allowed schooling to become a very profitable monopoly, guaranteed its customers by the police power of the state. Systematic schooling attracts increased investment only when it does poorly, and since there are no penalties at all for such performance, the temptation not to do well is overwhelming. That's because school staffs, both line and management, are involved in a guild system; in that ancient form of association no single member is allowed to outperform any other member, is allowed to advertise or is allowed to introduce new technology or improvise without the advance consent of the guild. Violation of these precepts is severely sanctioned--as Marva Collins, Jaime Escalante and a large number of once-brilliant teachers found out.

The guild reality cannot be broken without returning primary decision-making to parents, letting them buy what they want to buy in schooling, and encouraging the entrepreneurial reality that existed until 1852. That is why I urge any business to think twice before entering a cooperative relationship with the schools we currently have. Cooperating with these places will only make them worse.

The structure of American schooling, 20th century style, began in 1806 when Napoleon's amateur soldiers beat the professional soldiers of Prussia at the battle of Jena. When your business is selling soldiers, losing a battle like that is serious. Almost immediately afterwards a German philosopher named Fichte delivered his famous "Address to the German Nation" which became one of the most influential documents in modern history. In effect he told the Prussian people that the party was over, that the nation would have to shape up through a new Utopian institution of forced schooling in which everyone would learn to take orders.

So the world got compulsion schooling at the end of a state bayonet for the first time in human history; modern forced schooling started in Prussia in 1819 with a clear vision of what centralized schools could deliver:

  1. Obedient soldiers to the army;
  2. Obedient workers to the mines;
  3. Well subordinated civil servants to government;
  4. Well subordinated clerks to industry
  5. Citizens who thought alike about major issues.

Schools should create an artificial national consensus on matters that had been worked out in advance by leading German families and the head of institutions. Schools should create unity among all the German states, eventually unifying them into Greater Prussia.

Prussian industry boomed from the beginning. She was successful in warfare and her reputation in international affairs was very high. Twenty-six years after this form of schooling began, the King of Prussia was invited to North America to determine the boundary between the United States and Canada. Thirty-three years after that fateful invention of the central school institution, as the behest of Horace Mann and many other leading citizens, we borrowed the style of Prussian schooling as our own.

You need to know this because over the first 50 years of our school institution Prussian purpose--which was to create a form of state socialism--gradually forced out traditional American purpose, which in most minds was to prepare the individual to be self-reliant.

In Prussia the purpose of the Volksshule, which educated 92 percent of the children, was not intellectual development at all, but socialization in obedience and subordination. Thinking was left to the Real Schulen, in which 8 percent of the kids participated. But for the great mass, intellectual development was regarded with managerial horror, as something that caused armies to lose battles.

Prussia concocted a method based on complex fragmentations to ensure that its school products would fit the grand social design. Some of this method involved dividing whole ideas into school subjects, each further divisible, some of it involved short periods punctuated by a horn so that self-motivation in study would be muted by ceaseless interruptions.

There were many more techniques of training, but all were built around the premise that isolation from first-hand information, and fragmentation of the abstract information presented by teachers, would result in obedient and subordinate graduates, properly respectful of arbitrary orders. "Lesser" men would be unable to interfere with policy makers because, while they could still complain, they could not manage sustained or comprehensive thought. Well-schooled children cannot think critically, cannot argue effectively.

One of the most interesting by-products of Prussian schooling turned out to be the two most devastating wars of modern history. Erich Maria Ramarque, in his classic "All Quiet on the Wester Front" tells us that the First World War was caused by the tricks of schoolmasters, and the famous Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that the Second World War was the inevitable product of good schooling.

It's important to underline that Bonhoeffer meant that literally, not metaphorically--schooling after the Prussian fashion removes the ability of the mind to think for itself. It teaches people to wait for a teacher to tell them what to do and if what they have done is good or bad. Prussian teaching paralyses the moral will as well as the intellect. It's true that sometimes well-schooled students sound smart, because they memorize many opinions of great thinkers, but they actually are badly damaged because their own ability to think is left rudimentary and undeveloped.

We got from the United States to Prussia and back because a small number of very passionate ideological leaders visited Prussia in the first half of the 19th century, and fell in love with the order, obedience and efficiency of its system and relentlessly proselytized for a translation of Prussian vision onto these shores. If Prussia's ultimate goal was the unification of Germany, our major goal, so these men thought, was the unification of hordes of immigrant Catholics into a national consensus based on a northern European cultural model. To do that children would have to be removed from their parents and from inappropriate cultural influence.

In this fashion, compulsion schooling, a bad idea that had been around at least since Plato's "Republic", a bad idea that New England had tried to enforce in 1650 without any success, was finally rammed through the Massachusetts legislature in 1852. It was, of course, the famous "Know-Nothing" legislature that passed this law, a legislature that was the leading edge of a famous secret society which flourished at that time known as "The Order of the Star Spangled Banner," whose password was the simple sentence, "I know nothing"--hence the popular label attached to the secret society's political arm, "The American Party."

Over the next 50 years state after state followed suit, ending schools of choice and ceding the field to a new government monopoly. There was one powerful exception to this--the children who could afford to be privately educated.

It's important to note that the underlying premise of Prussian schooling is that the government is the true parent of children--the State is sovereign over the family. At the most extreme pole of this notion is the idea that biological parents are really the enemies of their own children, not to be trusted.

How did a Prussian system of dumbing children down take hold in American schools? Thousands and thousands of young men from prominent American families journeyed to Prussia and other parts of Germany during the 19th century and brought home the Ph. D. degree to a nation in which such a credential was unknown. These men pre-empted the top positions in the academic world, in corporate research, and in government, to the point where opportunity was almost closed to those who had not studied in Germany, or who were not the direct disciples of a German PhD, as John Dewey was the disciple of G. Stanley Hall at Johns Hopkins.

Virtually every single one of the founders of American schooling had made the pilgrimage to Germany, and many of these men wrote widely circulated reports praising the Teutonic methods. Horace Mann's famous "7th Report" of 1844, still available in large libraries, was perhaps the most important of these.

By 1889, a little more than 100 years ago, the crop was ready for harvest. It that year the US Commissioner of Education, William Torrey Harris, assured a railroad magnate, Collis Huntington, that American schools were "scientifically designed" to prevent "over-education" from happening. The average American would be content with his humble role in life, said the commissioner, because he would not be tempted to think about any other role. My guess is that Harris meant he would not be able to think about any other role.

In 1896 the famous John Dewey, then at the University of Chicago, said that independent, self-reliant people were a counter-productive anachronism in the collective society of the future. In modern society, said Dewey, people would be defined by their associations--not by their own individual accomplishments. It such a world people who read too well or too early are dangerous because they become privately empowered, they know too much, and know how to find out what they don't know by themselves, without consulting experts.

Dewey said the great mistake of traditional pedagogy was to make reading and writing constitute the bulk of early schoolwork. He advocated that the phonics method of teaching reading be abandoned and replaced by the whole word method, not because the latter was more efficient (he admitted that it was less efficient) but because independent thinkers were produced by hard books, thinkers who cannot be socialized very easily. By socialization Dewey meant a program of social objectives administered by the best social thinkers in government. This was a giant step on the road to state socialism, the form pioneered in Prussia, and it is a vision radically disconnected with the American past, its historic hopes and dreams.

Dewey's former professor and close friend, G. Stanley Hall, said this at about the same time, "Reading should no longer be a fetish. Little attention should be paid to reading." Hall was one of the three men most responsible for building a gigantic administrative infrastructure over the classroom. How enormous that structure really became can only be understood by comparisons: New York State, for instance, employs more school administrators than all of the European Economic Community nations combined.

Once you think that the control of conduct is what schools are about, the word "reform" takes on a very particular meaning. It means making adjustments to the machine so that young subjects will not twist and turn so, while their minds and bodies are being scientifically controlled. Helping kids to use their minds better is beside the point.

Bertrand Russell once observed that American schooling was among the most radical experiments in human history, that America was deliberately denying its children the tools of critical thinking. When you want to teach children to think, you begin by treating them seriously when they are little, giving them responsibilities, talking to them candidly, providing privacy and solitude for them, and making them readers and thinkers of significant thoughts from the beginning. That's if you want to teach them to think. There is no evidence that this has been a State purpose since the start of compulsion schooling.

When Frederich Froebel, the inventor of kindergarten in 19th century Germany, fashioned his idea he did not have a "garden for children" in mind, but a metaphor of teachers as gardeners and children as the vegetables. Kindergarten was created to be a way to break the influence of mothers on their children. I note with interest the growth of daycare in the US and the repeated urgings to extend school downward to include 4-year-olds. The movement toward state socialism is not some historical curiosity but a powerful dynamic force in the world around us. It is fighting for its life against those forces which would, through vouchers or tax credits, deprive it of financial lifeblood, and it has countered this thrust with a demand for even more control over children's lives, and even more money to pay for the extended school day and year that this control requires.

A movement as visibly destructive to individuality, family and community as government-system schooling has been might be expected to collapse in the face of its dismal record, coupled with an increasingly aggressive shake down of the taxpayer, but this has not happened. The explanation is largely found in the transformation of schooling from a simple service to families and towns to an enormous, centralized corporate enterprise.

While this development has had a markedly adverse effect on people and on our democratic traditions, it has made schooling the single largest employer in the United States, and the largest grantor of contracts next to the Defence Department. Both of these low-visibility phenomena provide monopoly schooling with powerful political friends, publicists, advocates and other useful allies. This is a large part of the explanation why no amount of failure ever changes things in schools, or changes them for very long. School people are in a position to outlast any storm and to keep short-attention-span public scrutiny thoroughly confused.

An overview of the short history of this institution reveals a pattern marked by intervals of public outrage, followed by enlargement of the monopoly in every case.

After nearly 30 years spent inside a number of public schools, some considered good, some bad, I feel certain that management cannot clean its own house. It relentlessly marginalizes all significant change. There are no incentives for the "owners" of the structure to reform it, nor can there be without outside competition.

What is needed for several decades is the kind of wildly-swinging free market we had at the beginning of our national history. It cannot be overemphasized that no body of theory exists to accurately define the way children learn, or which learning is of most worth. By pretending the existence of such we have cut ourselves off from the information and innovation that only a real market can provide. Fortunately our national situation has been so favorable, so dominant through most of our history, that the margin of error afforded has been vast.

But the future is not so clear. Violence, narcotic addictions, divorce, alcoholism, loneliness...all these are but tangible measures of a poverty in education. Surely schools, as the institutions monopolizing the daytimes of childhood, can be called to account for this. In a democratic republic the final judges cannot be experts, but only the people.

Trust the people, give them choices, and the school nightmare will vanish in a generation.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The Constitution Hangs by a thread

“Now, these are the commandments of God, the principles contained in these commandments of the great Eternal are the principles that underly the Constitution of our country and all just laws. Joseph Smith, the prophet, was inspired to affirm and ratify this truth, and he further predicted that the time would come, when the Constitution of our country would hang as it were by a thread (Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report, October 1912, p. 11)

How long will it be before the words of the prophet Joseph will be fulfilled? He said if the Constitution of the United States were saved at all it must be done by this people. It will not be many years before these words come to pass. (Brigham Young ,Journal of Discourses 12:204.)

Now I tell you it is time the people of the United States were waking up with the understanding that if they don't save the Constitution from the dangers that threaten it, we will have a change of government. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, April 1950, p. 159)

“Our government is an organization which was to, and since has, enacted, judged and enforced law through and by legislative, judicial and executive departments. It is encumbent on the American people to steadfastly maintain the historic balance of power by the three branches of government if our political system is to be preserved.
“We, the American people, must not become so internationally minded as to sell our birthright for a spurious promise of world peace. The most nationally-minded people are our enemies. We must remain faithful to our pledge, regardless of charges of chauvinism, to preserve America ‘with our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.’ ” (Judge Joseph E. Nelson, BYU Speeches, April 24, 1963, p. 3 )

“We cannot brook the thought of it being torn into shreds, or destroyed, or trampled under foot and ignored by men. We cannot tolerate the sentiment, at one time expressed, by a man high in authority in the nation. He said: "The constitution be damned; the popular sentiment of the people is the constitution!" That is the sentiment of anarchism, and has spread to a certain extent, and is spreading over "the land of liberty and the home of the brave." We do not tolerate it. Latter-day Saints cannot tolerate such a spirit as this. It is anarchy. It means destruction. It is the spirit of mobocracy, and the Lord knows we have suffered enough from mobocracy, and we do not want any more of it. We cannot afford to yield to that spirit or contribute to it in the least degree. We should stand with a front like flint against every spirit or species of contempt or disrespect for the constitution of our country and the constitutional laws of our land.— (Joseph F. Smith Oct. C. R., 1912, pp. 8-11.)

“I believe that it is the destiny of the Latter-day Saints to support the Constitution of the United States. [T]he Latter-day Saints would become a balance of power, with others, to preserve that Constitution. If there is—and there is one part of the Constitution hanging as by a thread today—where do the Latter-day Saints belong? Their place is to rally to the support of that Constitution, and maintain it and defend it and support it by their lives and by their vote. Let us not disappoint God nor his prophet. Our place is fixed. (Melvin J. Ballard, Conference Report, April 1933, p. 127)

“It is my conviction that the elders of Israel, widely spread over the nation, will at that crucial time successfully rally the righteous of our country and provide the necessary balance of strength to save the institutions of constitutional government.” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 618-619)

“As we spread abroad in this land, bearers of this priesthood, men and women with high ideals and standards, our influence will spread as we take positions of leadership in the community, in the state, in the nation, in the world. We will be able to sit in counsel with others and we will be able to influence others in paths of righteousness. We will help to save this nation, because this nation can only be preserved on the basis of righteous living.” (Ezra Taft Benson "The Greatest Leadership," BYU Student Leadership Conference, Sun Valley, Idaho, September 1959.)

“[T]here will be enough of good people, many who may not belong to our Church at all, people who have respect for law and for order, and for Constitutional rights, who will rally around with us and save the Constitution. I have never read that that thread would be cut. It will hang; the Constitution will abide and this civilization, that the Lord has caused to be built up, will stand fortified through the power of God, by putting from our hearts all that is evil, or that is wrong in the sight of God, by our living as we should live, acceptable to him.” (Charles W. Nibley, Conference Report, October 1922, p. 40)

“Will there be some of us who won't care about saving the Constitution, others who will be blinded by the craftiness of men, and some who will knowingly be working to destroy it? He that has ears to hear and eyes to see can discern by the Spirit and through the words of God's mouthpiece that our liberties are being taken.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1963, p. 113)

God has given America to be free. He has, in times past, wrought upon the hearts and minds of men we now revere for greatness. In weakness they were made mighty and today we reverence them in paternal tones; America’s founders. We are, once again at a crossroads. The leaders at our nation’s birth have left us their legacy. With us still is the One who made them great. It is He…the source of truth, light, inspiration and author of our prosperity. God yet has the capacity to shape hearts and minds...inspiring men beyond themselves into the halls of our revered greatness. The path upon which God’s greatest influence is felt in the world is made treacherous by the adversary. Not all have been able to walk it. Should he choose to remain faithful and walk God’s path, the day will come when the name Beck will be synonymous with Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton and Madison. May God guide and direct him through the fiery darts in leading the charge to save our Constitution.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Perfect 10

Elle loves bananas. We tease her that she eats them like a monkey...which might explain her "monkey feet" that she can climb just about anything. She is also blond, curly, blue-eyed, tans (rather than freckle or burn like her brothers). She loves to dance, gets in moods where she wants to hug and kiss everybody, is obsessed about her shoes, particular about her clothes. I think I have a girl! She's helpful (she loves to help me empty the dishwasher), kind, clever, loves to make her brothers laugh and she LOVES babies!

She's not just any girl....I'm growing the perfect 10!

I took these pictures this morning. They're not staged. She was just naturally posing with her banana while watching Between the Lions.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Messes for sale!

Last year I started listening to Free Capitalist Radio and learning all about the principles of Capitalism. It was fascinating! I started applying the principles at home and teaching the boys things I was learning. Thus began the Recycling with Ethan saga.

I declared an end to the recycling season with the first rains last year and sent out a letter to the neighbors thanking them for participating. Ethan has been asking me to start recycling in the neighborhood again. I've been putting it off. Ethan has decided to not be a victim to my procrastination.

He has been rather resourceful and has come up with plenty of other ideas in which he can create value and make some money. We drove by some kids in front of their house selling lemonade. He was fascinated with the idea and started mixing his own lemonade first by pouring lemon juice into the sugar and then sugar into straight lemon juice. I helped him dilute the second batch, but he insisted on setting up a lemonade stand in the living room using every glass in the cupboard. You could tell where he had walked carrying his product because the floors were sticky and made noise as your shoes lifted out of the stick.

This morning Ethan set up another food vending venture. He came into the bathroom and proudly announced to Michael and I that he was open for business selling real food and he expected real money. I went into the living room to find a fort (his store front) built out the trampoline, bins and blankets and the opened shredded wheat bag inside his store. Hunter decided to be his competition and poured out several piles of shreded wheat directly onto the carpet. Elle, the only customer in sight seemed to prefer the easy access of Hunter's store.

I let the children finish eating the pile of shredded wheat off the floor but confiscated the opened bag that Ethan was stocking his store with.

Undaunted, Ethan made a sign with the numbers 10 20 and displayed it in front of his still standing fort. He said that the numbers were how much it cost to go in his fort. He went through the rationalization of Hunter's financial capacity and then told me that I had to give Hunter money for the entry fee since he didn't have any. $10.20 seemed rather steep to me so I gave Hunter 10 pennies, which was satisfactory for Ethan to let Hunter in. As a gesture of good will Ethan announced that babies did not have to pay the entry fee and gave Elle free access to his fort.

Since Ethan was in the mood for lessons in Capitalism I thought we'd continue his game. I called the boys for breakfast and gave Ethan his menu and the prices for each item. A bowl of cereal is 5 pennies. Milk is 2 pennies. A vitamin is 1 penny.

Ethan paid the 5 cents for his cereal and the one for his vitamin. He was torn over splurging for milk, though. He finally relented and paid the extra 2 cents for milk. What struck me about the whole thing is that he showed enormous respect and manners at breakfast. He answered my questions about his "order" by using ma'am and was extremely polite when he asked for a napkin. He didn't finish his cereal, but I didn't feel compelled to make him eat all of it either since he paid for it.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Drunk Driver

We were coming home when Michael pointed out a black car ahead of us swerving all over the road. "We've got a drunk". We've come across drunks before and called their license plate in, but experience has taught me that highway vehicles that are called in are too hard for CHP to find and arrest.

He was like a moth to a flame...following closely behind the car ahead. When he was in a lane he would drift across lanes and then correct, drift onto the shoulder and back again. He was all over the road. He'd make unsignaled lane changes weaving around cars. I've seen people do this before, but never drunk. The drunks I've come across usually are going a bit slower and exercising caution. I said to Michael, "He's going to kill somebody".

We got close to get a license plate, but it must have been a new car because he had the dealer paper plates still on.

As we approached our exit to take care of mom's new dog Dixie, Michael noticed that our drunk exited right in front of us. He turned right, crossed the double yellow line and went into oncoming traffic. Fortunately there were no cars coming from the other direction. We followed him as he pulled into the Shell station. We watched as he then sat at pump #1 for at least 3 minutes before getting out. That gave Michael enough time to call the PD with a description of both the vehicle and the driver. The man went into the store and we waited.

One officer arrived before the man came out. When the man came out the officer pulled up behind his car and approached him. Another officer arrived and the second officer started doing sobriety tests. Unfortunately he was behind the pump so I couldn't see what was going on. Then the man walked out to where I could see him, fulfilling the officers request to walk a straight line. He was hard pressed to comply. Actually seeing him walk was rather frightening considering he had just been behind the wheel.

The first officer got a brethalizer kit out of his car. It seemed weird that he kept blowing into it and they kept asking him to do it again and again. Michael could tell that he was playing games by not putting his mouth around it or not really blowing. There was a red light on the machine that glowed when he blew and went up a few bars on one blow in particular, but I couldn't really tell what to look for.

The officers had him turn around and cuffed him up and then put him in the back of the police car. I felt really glad and relieved he was off the road!

The second officer came over to talk to us and told us that this was not the first time he'd been caught driving drunk. OH REALLY!!!

Maybe the judge will wise up and suspend his license.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Flouride: for the sake of children's teeth?

Since I got my adult teeth they have looked marbled. I've always taken good care of them, brushing after meals, seeing the dentist regularly....but my teeth looked yellow in spots. It was embarrassing. I stumbled across some information on fluoride that peaked my interest and so I did some digging.I It turns have a mild case of fluorosis which has discolored my teeth and made them look modeled. At least now I know now what it's called and why I my teeth look the way they do. I've stopped using fluoride toothpaste, thrown it all away and started using baking soda for myself and the children.

The following are bits and pieces that I found regarding fluoride.

Dental fluorosis is an irreversible condition caused by excessive ingestion of fluoride during the tooth forming years. It is the first visible sign that a child has been overexposed to fluoride.

Fluoride causes dental fluorosis by damaging the enamel-forming cells, called ameloblasts. The damage to these cells results in a mineralization disorder of the teeth, whereby the porosity of the sub-surface enamel is increased.

Letters from People Impacted by Dental Fluorosis

The following is a sampling of emails sent to the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) from people impacted by dental fluorosis.

------ Forwarded Message
From: [...]
Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2005 21:34:12 EDT
Subject: depressing fluorosis

My name is Jennifer and I have severe dental fluorosis. I am now 20 and have had this since I was very young. This has really affected my life to the fullest extent. In elementary, middle, and high school, I was teased really bad by the other kids. People did not understand what I was talking about when I tried to explain, they thought I just did not brush my teeth. I can't smile or even look people in the eye when I talk to them. It is completely devastating. Thank God I am finally getting it fixed. I am going in one month for a Composite Bonding. I wish more people knew how exactly this affects children. Especially when they grow older, everyone would like a nice smile, but this makes it so much worse, especially since it is permanent. To everyone else that has it, remember you are not the only ones!

Pictures of Dental Fluorosis

Mild Fluorosis
Photo by Hardy Limeback, DDS

Mild Fluorosis

Photo by Elke Babiuk

Mild Fluorosis

Photo by Hardy Limeback, DDS

Mild Fluorosis

Photo by David Kennedy, DDS

Mild Fluorosis
Photo by Jeffrey Hamilton, DDS

Mild/Moderate Fluorosis
Photo by Elke Babiuk

Moderate/Severe Fluorosis
Photo by David Kennedy, DDS

Moderate/Severe Fluorosis
Photo by David Kennedy, DDS

Severe Fluorosis

Photo by Hardy Limeback, DDS

Severe Fluorosis

Photo by Hardy Limeback, DDS

Severe Fluorosis

Photo by John Colquhoun, DDS

Severe Fluorosis

Source of photo unknown

"it is illogical to assume that tooth enamel is the only tissue affected by low daily doses of fluoride ingestion."
- Dr. Hardy Limeback, Head of Preventive Dentistry, University of Toronto. (2000).
Why I am now Officially Opposed to Adding Fluoride to Drinking Water.

"Common sense should tell us that if a poison circulating in a child's body can damage the tooth-forming cells, then other harm also is likely."
- Colquhoun J. (1997). Why I changed my mind about Fluoridation.
Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 41:29-44.

"Like bones, a child's teeth are alive and growing. Flourosis is the result of fluoride rearranging the crystalline structure of a tooth's enamel as it is still growing. It is evidence of fluoride's potency and ability to cause physiologic changes within the body, and raises concerns about similar damage that may be occurring in the bones."
- Environmental Working Group, "National Academy Calls for Lowering Fluoride Limits in Tap Water", March 22, 2006.

"It seems prudent at present to assume that the ameloblasts are not the only cells in the body whose function may be disturbed by the physiological concentrations of fluoride which result from drinking water containing 1 ppm"
- Groth, E. (1973),
Two Issues of Science and Public Policy: Air Pollution Control in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Fluoridation of Community Water Supplies. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, May 1973.

"A linear correlation between the Dean index of dental fluorosis and the frequency of bone fractures was observed among both children and adults."
- Alarcon-Herrera MT, et al. (2001). Well Water Fluoride, Dental fluorosis, Bone Fractures in the Guadiana Valley of Mexico. Fluoride 34(2): 139-149.


It was in the year 1939 that a famous institute in the eastern part of the United States commissioned their biochemist to find a use for the sodium fluoride wastes produced by aluminum foundries. Some 45 other industries also had fluoride disposal problems. Many were tormented by expensive damage suits arising from the noxious effects of the poison on livestock and crops. Oil refineries, metal smelters, tile, brick, steel, fertilizer and ceramic plants and many installations of the Atomic Energy Commission were involved. The cost to eliminate this chemical was fantastically high. Was there no way this byproduct could be put to a profitable use?
Now this biochemist was a clever and cunning man. He came up with a big moneymaking idea: why not dissolve the stuff in drinking water? He had absolutely no medical background and had not conducted any clinical research into the effects of sodium fluoride on our body's chemistry. His idea went over big with companies who were burdened by what to do with sodium fluoride wastes.

The next step was not difficult . . . turn the idea over to the advertising companies and let them tell the public that the greatest health measure in modern times had been discovered. So they used the premise that sodium fluoride in drinking water would prevent tooth decay in children, as they found a Texas town that had naturally occurring fluoride and, it seemed, fewer dental cavities. The public was eager to hear more. At last, a way to prevent tooth decay! Most became convinced despite the fact that tooth decay comes from poor nutrition and especially the high consumption of refined sugar drinks, candy and products.



Washington , D.C. 20460
MAR 30 1983


Leslie A.Russell, D.M.D.

363 Walnut Street
Newtonville, Mass. 02160

Dear Dr Russell:

Thank you for you letter of March 9, 1983, in regard to the flouridation of drinking water.

The information available to the Environmental Protection Agency is that flouridation is a safe and effective means for reducing the occurrence of dental caries. The flouridation process has been endorsed by several Presidents of the United States and by several Surgeons General, including the current Surgeon General, Dr C. Everett Koop. A copy of Dr Koop's statement on flouridation is enclosed.

Water treatment chemicals, including fluosilicic acid, have been evaluated for their potential for contributing to the contamination of drinking water. The Water Treatment Chemicals Codex, published by the National Academy of Sciences, prescribes the purity requirement for fluosilicic acid and other flouridation chemicals.

In regard to the use of fluosilicic acid as a source of fluoride for flouridation, this Agency regards such use as an ideal environmental solution to a long-standing problem. By recovering by-product fluosilicic acid from fertiliser manufacturing, water and air pollution are minimized, and water utilities have a low-cost source of fluoride available to them. I hope this information adequately responds to your concern.

Sincerely yours,

Rebecca Hanmer


Shocking Historical Fluoride Facts

  • Adolf Hitler sought a means to make people docile and suggestible. He discovered that odorless sodium fluoride slowly poisons and makes dormant the small tissue in the brain's left rear occipital lobe that normally helps a person resist domination. Fluoride allows muscles to move one way, but not relax. In large doses fluoride causes paralysis and death.

  • Sodium fluoride is classified with arsenic and cyanide as a dangerous poison and is used in rat poison. Hydrogen fluoride is an industrial pollutant. It is illegal to sell or give away a fluoride pill of 1 mg. Fluoride slowly destroys the body's self-repair and rejuvenation capabilities causing premature ageing, bone damage and deformities.

  • Fluoride increases the risk of hip fractures up to 41%. Fluoridation can cause tooth enamel mottling, poor health, mongolism in infants and increases the growth of cancer cells

"Fluoridation is the greatest case of scientific fraud of this century, if not all time."
-Robert Carton, Ph.D., Toxicologist

Since 1996 these 11 Associations no longer endorse Water Fluoridation:

  • American Heart Assoc.
  • American Academy of Allergy & Immunology
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Activation Network
  • American Diabetes Assoc.
  • National Institute of Law Municipal Officers
  • American Chiropractic Assoc.
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • Nat'l Kidney Foundation
  • American Psychiatric Assoc.
  • Soc. of Toxicology

"The survival of this fake controversy represents one of the major triumphs of quackery over science in our times!"
- Consumer Reports '78

A Few of the Serious Health Disorders caused by Deadly Fluoridated Water:

  • Cancer with all its deadly forms
  • Digestive System Disorders
  • Ulcers & Colitis
  • Inability to Utilize Vit. B & C
  • Constipation & Nausea
  • Cirrhosis & Hepatitis
  • Kidney, Bladder & Urinary Disorders
  • Respiratory & Lung Disorder
  • Tuberculosis, Asthma, Sinusitis & Bronchitis
  • Circulatory Diseases
  • Arteriosclerosis, Heart Failure, Hypo & Hypertension
  • Varicose Veins & Coronary Thrombosis
  • Leukemia, Hemophilia & Anemia
  • Mental & Neurological Disorders
  • Neuroses & Psychoses, Polio & Multiple Sclerosis
  • Eye Diseases & Endocrine Dysfunction Cataracts, Glaucoma, Goiter
  • Impaired Gland Function: Adrenal, Thyroid, Sterility & Sex
  • Skin, Nail & Hair Conditions
  • Acne & Boils, Dermatitis & Eczema, Alopecia & Lupus
  • Bone & Joint Conditions - Osteoporosis, Bone Cancer
  • Arthritis, Swollen & Aching Joints
  • Teeth & Gum Diseases - Gum & Periodontal, Mottled & Darkened Teeth
  • Bone & Calcium Loss

Shocking Fluoride Facts:

53% of the U.S. population drinks water containing fluoride, which is costing taxpayers billions of dollars, not only for the fluoride, but in added medical expenses!

41 of the 50 largest US cities have added fluoride to their drinking water. Los Angeles and San Diego are two lucky ones, but Gov. Wilson is trying to pass a fluoride bill for all California, which could bankrupt cities and their medical facilities!

Millions of gallons of this deadly poison are doing untold damage. If your area is fluoridated start action groups to stop this criminal action now - to protect and save the lives of yourself, your family and future generations!!!