Yearly Archives: 2006

The House of Sixty Fathers

We finished another one of those awesome books from Christian’s Sonlight homeschool curriculum last night. It was the award winning The House of Sixty Fathers written by Meindert DeJong and Illustrated by Maurice Sendak. It was a Newbery Honor book in 1957. We cried through the whole last chapter yet. We just finished reading Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze about a young man living and working in Chungking in the 1930’s. The House of Sixty Fathers happens not too long after that in Hengyang. It is about a young boy and his pig who got caught in impossible circumstances during World War II when the Japanese were continuing their earlier attack of China in 1944. Christian is studying Chinese history, literature, and art right now as part of his year long survey of non-Western cultures, so these books are just perfect. We have not decided yet, but we think we might even rate this book higher than our previous favorite, The Witch of Blackbird Pond. They are very different books, but they are both awesome.

Homeschool economics education

I believe economics education is very important, but have had a struggle trying to figure out how to teach it. I think I have finally come up with a plan to get us started. We have been covering the basic issues all along and have even started the formal academic study of economics with a great little book titled Whatever Happened to Penny Candy. The kids have earned some money and we have laid down some rules that with any money that comes in, ten percent goes to charity, ten percent goes to retirement, fifty percent goes to college savings and the rest is for spending. The two big things we think we are missing are the parts about day-to-day management of money and investing.

For the day-to-day management of money you can only go so far with the management of a weekly allowance. Most of those knowledgeable about homeschool recommend that homeschool families start a small business where the children can keep the books and manage the business. Of course the purpose of the business is to make money, but the amount of money that is made is secondary to learning about running a business, being responsible, and managing money. We plan to do that in a year or two. We are not sure what kind of business we want to start, but we want the kids to be fourteen or fifteen years old. We will probably spend a year before we start to identify a business and write a business plan that includes goals such as how much money we want to make and the expectation that the business will shut down after two years of operation.

The more immediate goal is to find a way to teach the kids about long term investing. It is quite evident that the early one starts saving the better off they are going to be when they get old and the more options they will have, even in middle age. To that end, I am going to have the kids keep track of some investments in stocks we will pick together. The idea behind our investing will be that any stock we pick we will hold at least a year, give or take a couple of weeks based on tax issues. We will pick the stocks based on their goodness and cheapness. I will have them take turns tracking the stocks values versus the S&P 500 which is a good representation of the market as a whole. In conjunction with that, we will set a target amount of savings for them to start investing for themselves. In a couple of years, when they have been tracking the stocks for awhile, they should have enough money together to start investing themselves and enough experience to pick stocks with their investing goals in mind. We will post our results here.

Christmas 2006 and thoughts on Mark 16

We have enjoyed our Christmas very much. Christian got a rock polisher and some memory for his Palm Zire 31 so he could do more stuff with it like use it as an MP3 player and play more games. Kelly got an iPod. Lorena got shopping (gift certificates). I got a new griddle for making omelette’s. We all got lots of clothes. This is the first year that Kelly and Christian went out and got gifts for everyone on their own. They did an awesome job. Grandpa Milo gave everyone some money–the most the kids had ever gotten in one chunk just for spending. So yesterday, we went down to the Big5 sporting goods store and they each bought a nice pair of inline skates with all the necessary knee and hand pads. One night, Micah came over to play with Christian for several hours. Another night, Hannah came over to play for the whole day. Kent Williston came over with Tony, Martha, and Josh Nelson on Christmas day for a beautiful ham dinner that Lorena prepared.

Tonight is the last Wednesday night bible study of 2006. We are studying Mark 16. It is amazing how there is always a message for me directly relevant to what is going on in my life. I must have never read Mark closely enough to have gotten this before, but toward the end of the chapter the apostles–the eleven servants of God who would take the gospel to the whole world–were upbraided by Jesus himself after the resurrection because they did not believe their friends who came to tell them that Jesus was risen. There was no reason that these friends would have lied to the apostles. They just wanted to convey the truth. I am sure these people loved the apostles as they loved Jesus. They were all in the same situation, confused and wanting to know what to do in a difficult situation. Maybe it was just that, in the end, the new was so good that they could not take it all in. The news being that Jesus is alive, he has his hand on us in all things, and he wants us to believe each other and love each other. I want to humble myself and do that more.

It is hard going to work on the last day before Christmas vacation

We are very happy that Christmas has finally arrived. I will have four days off and do not plan to do anything other than hang out with the family. Last night Jay and Karen Nelson stopped by to say hello and greet Grandpa Lauro and Grandma Conchita. We had a very enjoyable talk. Next time, they promise to bring the kids. Tomorrow, Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah are coming down to have some lunch and open some presents. Posting will be light until at least Wednesday of next week unless the spirit moves me.

School is out for Christmas break

Today is the last day of homeschool until the New Year. We are now three weeks ahead of the local government schools. They are scheduled for only 170 days this year while we are scheduled for an additional two weeks or 180 days. In addition, the kids actual study for about six hours per day not including the time they spend in the evening doing corrections, spelling, reading aloud, etc. The official amount of time the kids are at the school is six hours twenty minutes at the elementary school and six hours thirty-five minutes for the middle school. We think that it is way too generous to believe the government school kids are actually studying four hours per day not including homework. Using those numbers and assuming the evening work of both groups of students is about the same, we calculate that Kelly and Christian have spent about 486 hours studying this year while the government school kids have spent about 264 hours studying. That means that Kelly and Christian have about a 222 hour advantage. This is equivalent to well over a month and a half of six hour days. The advantage is only going to increase as the year continues.

This coupled with the socialization disadvantage of the government schools and the significantly better curricula we have chosen give us confidence that we made the correct decision when we opted to homeschool Kelly and Christian.

Lauro and Conchita are here and Christian’s latest video

Grandpa Lauro and Grandma Conchita made it to Oregon late last night. Lorena and Grandpa Milo went to pick them up at the airport. It will be great to have them here for awhile. They got in so late that I am sure they will not make it down to Albany until late morning or early afternoon. We are all very excited to have them here. It will be nice for Kelly to have her Mexican grandparents with here when she presents her essay and receives her plaque and scholarship at the VFW.

The Ice Fisherman

I had another very interesting read in the bible this morning. I read in Mark 15 about the crucifixion of Christ and in Deuteronomy 9 about God’s promise to destroy the Anakims–the great and tall children of Anak who inhabited the promised land before the children of Israel got there. When Jesus was killed, because of his perfect righteousness he was raised from the dead and will be able to come back to avenge the elect. When the Anakims were killed, because of their unrighteousness, that is the way they will remain. It was interesting to me that God said, “Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD swore unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” God destroyed those people because of their wickedness. I marveled that this is even true for me. Those people who do wicked things will be destroyed and I will inherit what God has prepared for his elect. The wicked will be destroyed, not because I am good, but for their wickedness. I will receive what I receive, not because of my own righteousness, but because of His promises and His love for me.

Sometimes I forget

There is no homeschool today. Lorena and the kids are running up to Portland today. Lorena is going to go out shopping on her own while Kelly and Christian are going to go shopping with Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah. This evening, they are all going to the airport to pick up Grandpa Lauro and Grandma Conchita. They will stay in Portland tonight, then come home tomorrow morning. We can hardly wait for them to get here!

Lorena and I had a long talk last night. It was very, very good. Then, this morning in my read through the bible, I read Deuteronomy 8. God spoke with the children of Israel telling them that he led them through the desert and fed them manna for forty years to humble them and to help them to remember it was Him who was taking them into the promised land. It was Him who chastened them as a man chaseneth his son. In previous chapters, God warned the people not to listen to those who would have them follow false gods and turn away from the one true God. When I think of some of the advise and chastening I have received over the last few years, I am the more thankful for my father, Grandpa Milo, who was an elder for many, many years. While he is not perfect, he has always had my best interests at heart. When issues came up, he always pointed to God. He did not point to other men or the traditions of men, but to God. My mother, Grandma Sarah’s advise came in the form of a model of compassion and loyalty. Lorena’s parents, Grandpa Lauro and Grandma Conchita have all those same qualities. The hallmark of their stewardship is humility, love, and honesty. Those models provide a great contrast with advise based on pride, tradition, and personal agendas. We have every reason to be thankful for the true elders in our midsts who have our best interests, the interests of the church, and especially the interests of “the least of these” at heart. I never want to forget that it is God I serve and none other.

Getting close to Christmas

It feels like we have finally arrived at the Christmas season now. It is getting cold, the kids are getting out of school, the decorations are going up, and there is Christmas music everywhere. It is especially good this year because Grandpa Lauro and Grandma Conchita are going to arrive tomorrow night. Lorena and the kids will leave me here in the mid-valley to work to go up to Portland tomorrow morning so Lorena can do some shopping on her own and the kids can go out shopping with Grandpa Milo and Grandma Sarah. The plane comes in late, so they will stay the night in Portland to come down to Albany on Wednesday. The house is looking quite festive, too, what with Lorena’s electric grapes and dead tree branches strewn around the house!!!

It was quite an unusual weekend this weekend because of the strong storm that blew a tree down over Jim and JoAnn’s power line. That was pretty sad, but it meant that our ministers needed another place to stay for a couple of days, so they came to stay with us (we are the closest to Jim and JoAnn). In addition, we got to have the Sunday morning meeting at our house for the first time ever. It was great. Even though it was a the cost of a pretty lousy set of circumstances for the Waldo’s we appreciated the chance to have the meeting and the workers at our house and the excuse to invite Jim and JoAnn over for dinner on Sunday. I ate to much, but we all had a super time.

No electricity

We had a power outage last night. It started at about 8:30 and went until about 4:30 this morning. When the lights went out, we were all sitting in the bonus room. Christian and I were at the computers while Lorena and Kelly were reading. We were talking and it was very nice. When the lights went out, we lit up a bunch of candles in the master bedroom, then sat on the bed and talked and laughed for at least an hour. It was very, very nice. You can talk a whole lot better when you are not sitting at the computer or reading a book. We need to do that more often. I think it will be a nice thing to try to all sit together and have a cup of hot cocoa or tea before we go to bed and to talk. That will be our plan.

The Scientific Method

I used the scientific method along with productivity today when I caught Fruit Flies in two separate traps. As it turned out, the fruit flied discovered the half-banana that Mom tried eating 3 years ago and decided to invade it .

HYPOTHESES
since the instructions guide you to use Cider vinegar as bait, I think that this will work better than the rancid banana bait.
As you can imagine, there are not many web pages dedicated solely to fruit flies. I did manage to find out (by trial error while trying to kill them with my hands) that their sphincter is red, and their head is black. Also, they are addicted to fruits (hence the name), vegetables, and pretty much anything else you eat.

I made two traps. One with Cider Vinegar bait, the other with Rancid Banana bait.
Here are the results to my experiment.

VINEGAR=RANCID BANANA=RUBIX respectively

MIN.1- 0 0 0
MIN.2 – 1 0 0
MIN.3 – 2 1 0
MIN.4 – 3 1 0
MIN.5 – 5-6 3 0
MIN.6 – 6 3 0
MIN.7 – ? 3 0
MIN.8 – ? 3 0
MIN.9 – ? 3 0
MIN.10- ? 4 0

Sorry about the bad layout.

As you can probably see, Roob-Poob slept through the whole experiment. )c:
The vinegar was pure insanity to the flies. The minute the trap was prepared, the flies swarmed it and it got twice as much as the rancid banana in half the time, then got uncountable. In fact, the only two flies that didn’t get caught were the ones that never found either trap, but found my dinner instead. I think that the Cider Vinegar is worth getting for this experiment. And the banana is still ok in a pinch. Cats are outdated.

Universal Variables

  • The traps were not set at the same time. The rancid banana was out longer than the vinegar.
  • One of the flies escaped and so I put clay clogs around all of the holes on both of the traps.
  • We started eating dinner in the middle of the experiment, therefore distorting the flies sensors, causing two to stray.
  • Mom was cleaning the kitchen with soap.
  • After the ten minutes the two other flies went into the vinegar trap.
  • After another ten minutes, more flies came and got trapped in the rancid banana trap because the other one was too full.
MAKE YOUR OWN FLY TRAP

  1. Take a piece of paper and roll it into a funnel.
  2. Tape it and put it into a jar with Cider Vinegar.
  3. Get some clay and roll it into a long worm and put it around the rim of the bottle where the paper funnel and the rim touch.
A completed trap.
Fruit fly trap

Uncle Ed

My uncle, Ed, died last night. He was a great guy, always friendly and helpful to us kids. The things I remember about him was that he loved his job as a sawyer at the Weyerhauser sawmill across the river from his and Aunt Fern’s house in Cottage Grove. He always acted like he was going to box with me from my earliest memories up through when I entered middle age. He is the first guy I ever knew that invested in mutual funds. I always figured he started a little after they were invented. I am sure that is not true, but he was definitely on the bandwagon before they became universally popular as an retirement investment instrument. He always gave all us kids a stick of gum after Sunday morning meeting; I even remember him give his first testimony when he first professed to serve God. I do not remember what he said, but I was a really little kid sitting by my cousin, Gary, on a bench in front of the furnace at our house on South Sixth Street in Cottage Grove. I was mildly offended because Gary told me to be quiet because he wanted to listen. I wanted him to pay attention to what I was drawing. One of the coolest things about Uncle Ed was that he took up gold mining in his retirement. He had a mining claim out on Sharps Creek, I think. It fascinated me a lot. I do not think he found much gold, but he surely enjoyed the mining. He probably enjoyed talking with his mining buddies and being out and about more than finding gold. I am down here in California, but will make every effort to get back to the funeral.

Our thoughts go out to the whole family. Especially Cousin Merle. We will miss Uncle Ed.

Interesting work

I am still down here in California. I worked through the weekend and got a lot of stuff done that I thought would take me most of the week. I am still hoping to fly home on Wednesday if nothing comes up. The kids are back in homeschool, so when I get home, I will have ton of stuff to correct.

Travelling in California

I found out Thursday afternoon that I might have to travel to our Livermore, California office for the weekend to work.  They are shutting that office down, so I am now down here finishing up a project that will be shipped later in the month.  I would be rather be home with the kids, but that is life.

Starting homeschool in the morning

I get early enough in the morning to go to work that I almost never get to see the kids start their day. The most I get is a walk in their room to give them a kiss and tell them to have a good day, think of Jesus, and that I love them. Today, though, I vaguely remember an alarm clock going off, then I did not get up until a little later at about 7:30. When I got up I did not hear anything, so I got out of bed and walked down the hall to the kid’s rooms. They were empty; Kelly’s bed was made and Christian’s bed was made, kind of. I went down the stairs across the landing and up the stairs to the bonus room. Christian was at the Linux computer memorizing his verses using BibleTime. Kelly was at the Windows computer memorizing her verses using e-Sword.

I asked, “What are you doing?”

“Our homeschool,” said Kelly.

And they were. “Awesome!”, I said and went off to take my shower.

When I got out of the shower, I could hear Kelly doing her piano practice playing “The Carol of the Bells.” I got dressed and went into the bonus room again to see Christian working on his science assignment on the Linux computer desks with his books spread out in front of the monitor.

I asked him, “Do you always study in front of the computer?”

He said, “A lot.”

“Well, do you ever use the work table we have set up for that?” It was a little cramped on the computer table; the work table looked much more convenient and comfortable, too.

“We use all the tables a lot,” he replied.

All that worked for me. I gave Lorena a kiss. I gave each of the kids a kiss. I told them each to have a good day, to think of Jesus, and that I love them. Then I went to work. I am very proud of them.

My yoke is easy

Last night in our gospel meeting, our minister spoke about being in the yoke with Jesus. The scripture he read was Matthew 11:28-30. The salient part is in verse 30. “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” His theme was that the easiest path is to take the yoke of Jesus. We are often told that taking the more difficult path is often best, but that has not been my experience. When I take the easy path, the path the Jesus lays out for us, life is way better. There is less heartache and more joy. It was a great sermon. The sad part is that, even though I have a good intellectual grasp of that concept and am really quite moved by it, it is often my choice to drop out of the yoke and go my own way. In my experience, that has always caused pain and regret. The results of leaving the yoke of Jesus are manifested to us by many of our friends and family on a regular basis. That makes it the much more sad when I do it myself because I have no excuse. When I leave the yoke, I make life hard, not only for myself, but for my family and friends. Oh, if I could exercise a greater will to take the easy path…

Blogging on life, homeschool, programming, wrting, and investing

I have been evaluating what we do here on this blog to come up with some additional blog topics. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know by posting a comment. I would be happy to do some research, especially on homeschool, Linux, and investing issues. Kelly is doing better and better about writing down her thoughts and doings on the blog; she is especially good when she does poetry. I am going to encourage her to do excerpts from her book and from articles she and Christian write for their Kaktus Kids magazine. It dawned on me, though, that at any given time, most of the people who read this blog are wildly disinterested in at least a third of the stuff I write. When it comes to homeschool, programming, and investing–the things about which I write–I can imagine that our readership is interested in one or two out of the three. Nevertheless, the point of this writing is to have a dialog with our friends and eventually print out the blog and bind it into a diary for the kids to show their kids what it was like to grow up in our household. I really have enjoyed the writing. I hope we will enjoy looking back at it in future years.

So, right now, the thing I have been enjoying and finding very interesting is the development of my investment program. It is coming along quite nicely. My goal is to have it finished by the end of the year so that I can start picking stocks again for 2007. I am programming the system to run on both Windows and Linux using KDevelop as my IDE, the QT API to develop the GUI, and libcurl for internet access. I am successfully pulling the information down from the web now. I will try to add multithreading to application so that the GUI is a lot more snappy and the downloads happen in parallel, because it is dog ugly right now. After that, I need to extract the data I need from the pages and sort them according to the criteria of the investment program. I have done it once before, but I want to make it a little more automatic. The current program only stores the data in a comma-delimited file which has to be processed in the OpenOffice.org spreadsheet. My hope is to be ready to start posting my picks in late December or early January.

Update: Just a note on how the investing is going. Using the stock picking program to pick and buy (pretend) $1000 each of two stocks on February 15, March 13, and April 15 of 2006 for a total of $6000 and tracking equal purchases of the S&P 500 gave the following results:

Stock program picks
Initial purchase: $6000
Current value: $7225
Annual gain percent: ~27%
Feb. 15, 2006: 33.3333 shares of PONR @ $30.00
Feb. 15, 2006: 25.3165 shares of NSS @ $39.50 – merged with IPSCO on Dec. 1, 2006 – paid cash @ $66.00 per share
Mar. 13, 2006: 44.4444 shares of TNH @ $22.50
Mar. 13, 2006: 11.3310 shares of RS @ $88.25 – split 2:1 July 19, 2006
Apr. 15, 2006: 56.5931 shares of ITWO @ 17.67
Apr. 15, 2006: 34.5781 shares of PWEI @ 28.92

Equal amount of S&P 500
Initial purchase: $6000
Current value: $6617
Annual gain percent: ~14%