Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Students today.

I recently attended a ground breaking ceremony at Kalamazoo Christian High School. They are adding a new science wing to the school which will enable the kids there to actually begin experiencing some of the technologies that they will encounter in colleges.

One of the speakers said something that struck a cord with me. He said that the learning our students will do in that new wing and throughout the school will influence the direction of our society for years to come. One of the main things that KCSA can provide for students that public schools are not right now is a sense of responsibility. Far too many schools today feel that they have to be the parent and the teacher of our young people. They emphasize the person over the community. Individual achievement is promoted more than community progress. Student are taught if it feels right and you feel good about yourself then it must be OK. What are we teaching young people?

A friend of mine recently alerted me to these items on the Web:

First is a web site by Oakland County, MI Judge Michael Warren called America's Survival Guide. The subtitle of this site is "America is slowly committing suicide." I agree with his assessment.

The second is a video done by students at Kansas State University.

This video is right on the money. Having a teenager I can tell you that this video really hit home.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

facebook.com Safety

Note: This guide focuses on safety while online to help parents and young people. While some of the things I talk about may apply to other sites like myspace or xanga, I am going to specifically talk about facebook here. I will also be focusing just on the safety aspects not the overall functionality.

Basic setup:

  • Account – facebook ask you to use your real name (first and last) as your account name. This will be displayed on your page and will also show up in searches as part of your basic info.

  • Email – facebook asks you for a email and confirms that email is your by asking you to click on a link sent to that email. This becomes your default email for facebook.

  • Network – This is the main group or network as facebook calls it that you will be put into. In a college or high school format this will display the name of the school along with the anticipated graduation date.

  • Info – You have the option of have a number of things displayed on your profile page (main page). Everything from political and religious views, to relationship status and even phone, email, and address info are there to put in if you want.

Privacy settings:

From the privacy page you can restrict access to what is availible in a search of facebook or you can even limit certain people from seeing certain things.


This is the main function of facebook. A friend can see your profile page, send and receive messages, write on your wall, view your photos, and generally have any access to your information that they want.

Adding Friends:

A friend is added to your list after they friend request is made. You have the ability for 1 month to view that persons profile page to help you determine if you want to add them to your list. You can also ignore the request or even have the person blocked from the privacy settings page.

Staying safe:

  • NEVER add someone to your friends list that you have not met in person. A friend of a friend does not count. Someone who says they go to your school, church, Girl Scouts, etc, does not count as knowing them. If you have not physically seen them in real life then they may not exist.

  • NEVER give out your phone number to someone online that you have never met in person. Phone numbers can be traced to owners and owners can be traced to addresses.

  • NEVER call someone you only met online. With caller id systems now they will have your number and can trace you.

  • NEVER arrange to meet someone you only talked to online, IM'd, called on the phone, emailed.

  • Meeting someone online is not meeting them. As far as you know they may not be telling the truth.

  • NEVER post any personal information on your site.

  • NEVER post any personal information on your WALL.


facebook.com seems to be one of the most secure and user friendly of the social networking sites out there. One of it's major safety valves is also one of it's major vulnerabilities. In order to have access to another person's profile page with more personal information you need to be added as a friend. The power to approve friend requests lies solely with the account holder. facebook.com says it does not allow accounts for those under 13yrs of age. This means teens 13 and up have to make the decision of who to add to their list of friends.

What should I do as a parent to keep my kid safe and not have them sneak around?

First the danger in not letting them any access to a social networking site like facebook.com can mean that they will sneak around behind your back to do it. They will get on at a friends house, neighbors, relatives, library or even school.

If you decide to let your kids have a facebook.com account then do it with them. They might not like you having some access to their personal page, but it can be a good compromise.

Here is what you should do:

  • Create your own account. You can use the local area you live in as your network.

  • Add your child as a friend and make sure they accept your request.

  • Check your child's profile page over very well.

  • Check the friends your child has listed. If you do not know who they are then look into it.

  • Work with your child to create a profile that can be safe.

  • Check your child's profile page on a DAILY basis. You can get an alert on your home page when they add new friends or applications.

  • Keep the lines of communication open with your child. Make sure they are comfortable coming to you when they do not feel right about something.

  • Don't take any of their or your concerns lightly. There are far too many Internet predators out there to now. Err on the side of caution.

  • In order to keep you child from hiding things from you do not bug them about every little thing on their page. This can cause them to regress and hide their Internet activities from you.

Use your instincts and your judgment. If you feel you really cannot trust your child on the Internet then install some type of URL blocking or key logging software. This can alert you to any access your child has on the Internet. You can get detailed logs and even screen shots of what your child is doing.

The best policy usually is to work with your child to learn how to use the Internet safely. They need to know what dangers are out there and what to look for. You need to stay vigilant.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Freedom explained by one BadAss Marine.

Here is a great video by one BadAss Marine. It is done in rap style. Sounds like poetry to me.

Here is a link to go directly to YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBflQLa75C8

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Common ground: Win - Win

Common ground: The art of negotiating is dying. With today's big box stores that you can buy just about everything in, people have forgotten how to negotiate. That permeates all aspects of our society. The first and most obvious one is in purchasing major goods: cars, boats, houses, etc.

The two most common tactics are:
  • "What is your cost? So I can know how much money you are making." Very weak standpoint. It puts the retailer in the position of weighing your value to him as a customer. If he prices his product to high over the cost then he will alienate a customer and loose the sale. If he cannot close the deal on a reasonable margin then he will pass, something that no business owner wants to do.
  • "What is your best price right here right now. You have one shot to get me. If I don't like what I hear then I will go elsewhere." Again, it appears the customer is acting from a position of strength. After all they hold the checkbook right? The problem with that tactic is the customer may leave and go to another store, but may end up paying a higher price from the second store. He cannot return for the first offer right? He rejected it and will actually likely pay more if he has to save face.
The Win - Win scenario is dying in our society. True successful negotiating results in a win for both parties. This is illustrated in the retail or financial world everyday. It has much broader implications in our everyday lives. We are teaching our young people that it is my way or the highway. Getting along with others involves knowing when to compromise and when to hold your ground. Winning an argument or negotiation by crushing your opponent accomplishes nothing. You have alienated and destroyed the relationship you had. True compromise allows both sides to claim a win.

Here is a good book that I have read on this subject: The Win Win Negotiator

Friday, August 10, 2007

YouTube Missing Children Channel

YouTube has partnered with The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) to help find missing children. This is an awesome use of one of today's most popular internet sites.

If have time, browse the videos that are posted there. Sometimes a picture does not convey all of the aspects of a person, but video footage can trigger memories like nothing else.

Check it out: Don't You Forget About Me

If you have a missing child and want to post something on YouTube then click here for instructions.

I believe that God has given us the knowledge and ability to make a difference in our world. This is an example of a technology that was used for entertainment and frivolous activities before that can do some real good in this world.

Sunday, August 5, 2007


My family and I got a chance to go canoing today. What an adventure. It didn't quite turn out as we expected. In the end we all had fun though.

My wife suggested we try canoing at the local park. It looked fun and we actually had a day when all of my family was together. To start the day we got some much needed rain. We were kinda worried that we would not be able to go because of the rain. The rain cleared up just after church and I checked the NWS and told my wife that we would not get wet. Big mistake.

We arrived at the livery and rented two canoes. My wife, 14yr old and 4yr old daughters took one canoe and I took the other with my 6yr old and 3yr old sons. Things started out pretty hectic right away. The girls nosed their canoe right into the bank of the creek right away just a few feet downstream. My wife and 14yr old were not communicating very well and they were already getting frustrated. My 3yr old was pretty scared too. He is a special needs child and was really not cool with the boat rolling side to side. He kept close to me the whole trip. My 6yr old was great the whole trip. We had to wait quite a few times in the first 10 min of the trip for the girls so as not to run over them.

We eventually got a little sideways and the girls were getting a little distance ahead of us. We lost sight of their canoe as it rounded on of the curves. I still do not know exactly what happened, but just minutes later we turned around a corner of the creek and all of the girls were standing in the creek crying and screaming. Their canoe had capsized! They were all OK, but it looked like they went in head first. They were drenched from head to toe. I caught up with them and tried to get out and help get the water out of the canoe. I though I had gotten most of the water out of the other canoe so that my wife could get it to the landing by herself. I loaded up all of the kids into my canoe and we headed out. My wife said she would be OK.

The kids and I soon lost sight of the other boat and continued downstream. There were quite a few technical parts of the creek left ahead and was quietly glad I had the kids instead of my wife. We got stuck a couple of times because the river was very low from the lack of rain this year. My 14yr old was quite helpful though. The kids wanted to know if we should wait for mommy and see if she would catch up with us. I told them not to worry and that mommy would be OK. When we finally saw a sign showing the landing was just ahead, we got a call from my wife. She said she could not even use the canoe because it was too full of water. She just dragged it to shore and had a park ranger take her to the other end of the creek to meet us. Every one was safe in the end and we have quite a story to remember about our first family canoe trip. My wife want to try again without the kids this time. We will see. Maybe next year.

I think we accomplished what we wanted to though. Regardless of how crazy a trip it was. We had a family day. I would not have changed a thing.

EDIT: I almost forgot about the main tragedy of the day. My daughters new Kodak Digital camera got fried. I know she should not have brought it. I should have told her not to. Even though she is 14 she still needs her dad to tell her to do or not to do things.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Reactionary Society

Why do we live in such a reactionary society?

Why does a bridge have to collapse, a child get kidnapped and murdered or a building get hit by an airplane before people will pay attention?

I know we live in a free and open society and we have to accept some level of danger that goes along with that. I think that far too many people rely on their government to provide for them. Wake up people! Look about you. Open your eyes!

After 9-11-2001 so many people wanted to know how this could happen. The idea that a group of terrorists could hijack 4 planes and use them as weapons shocked so many of us. There were calls for tighter security at airports and in transit in general. Many people wanted to know how our great law enforcement and military could let this happen.

Every time a helpless child is abducted and harmed the local and state governments are blamed for not doing enough.

This latest tragedy in Minnesota will have all of the media in an uproar. They will be asking all of the whys. Why did the failure occur? Who knew the bridge was deficient? Why wasn't it fixed? On and on will the debate rage.

We cannot and must not place all of the responsibility with our governments when it comes to our safety and well being. We must carry the bulk of that burden. One of the primary duties of our government i s to provide for the common defense. That is common defense. Stay vigilant! Assume no one else is seeing what you are seeing. Assume no one else will do anything about it. Stand UP and be heard!

One only needs to look to those heroic passengers on United Airlines Flight 93 back on 9-11. They saw a situation that they new no one else knew about, and that no one else could help with. They saved possibly thousands of lives that day by sacrificing their own. They defended this great nation as well as any armed and trained soldier could have.

Let us please not use this bridge collapse in Minnesota as an excuse for politicians to grand stand and pass meaningless regulations and legislation because they just want to be seen as doing something. Billions of dollars will pour into projects just because they will make us feel better. The way Congress works it is very likely that the most money will never end up where it is actually needed. It will end up in the state or district or the Senator who has the most clout not the worst infrastructure. Let us act like those brave souls aboard Flight 93 and do something about our own world.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Prayer for our nation.

Just wanted to share a prayer for the nation today.


Thank you for all the blessings you have so richly bestowed upon us. Are the most honored and blessed nation on this earth. We enjoy not only the widely available housing, food and clothing you provide for us, but also the diversions that we partake in.

Please help us to remember what is important in life. You have blessed us so that we may provide for our families an those who are not as fortunate as us. Help us to recognize our neighbor who is in need. Whether our neighbor needs money, help with his house or family or simply needs someone to talk to when he is having a bad day, help us to recognize this.

Also help us to stay connected with our own families. So many times we allow others to teach our children what is important in life. Help us to turn our children back to you and let them know that your kingdom is more important than the latest video game, tv show or web site. Also keep our eyes open to those that would filter the world for our children for their own means. Help us to make sure that the teachings about you come from us or the Church, not from the school who claims that God cannot exist anywhere but Sunday in church.

In your Son Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

It seems as though more and more we get what is important in life from a screen, whether that be a computer screen, tv screen, or video game console.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Split family

My family was kinda slip up over the weekend and the last few weeks. Nothing serious. My 14yr old has been traveling with church groups or over to friend's house. Then she traveled to Detroit to visit with her Aunt, Uncle and cousin for a few days. My wife then traveled on Sunday with my 6yr old son to spend the night and pick up my daughter. I was with my 4yr old and 3yr old. I tried to do things with them that they would remember and be special for just the three of us. I got a glimpse of what it would be like to be a single dad. I did not like it at all. It is not the extra work that comes with being a single parent. That I am sure I could eventually handle. It was the fact that I only had 2 out of the 5 other members of my family with me.

I know my wife and I work a lot. I know my kids have activities, school and sports. There are so many distractions too. Internet, TV, video games, etc. There is no substitute for good old fashion family time though. Too often many families try to schedule one on one time, but we get enough time away from our families nowadays. Make time for your family. Especially if you have kids of any age. These are the things they will carry forever onto their children and their grandchildren.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Teen car accidents

We have a a rash of teenagers getting killed in auto accidents recently in West Michigan. Since July 1st there have been at least 12 deaths. Some of the accidents have been drinking related some have not. There was a Jeep Wrangler that rolled over just a few days ago that had 6 teens riding in it, none wearing seat belts. I am not sure what the solution to this is, but I have a few thoughts.

  • Where are the parents of these kids. Do they know what their kids are doing or even where they are and with whom?
  • When drinking is involved where are these kids getting the alcohol at?
  • Do we need to revise MI law again so that teens under 18 cannot have passengers and cannot be out after 10pm without parental supervision?
I feel so sorry for the friends and families of these young people. There is nothing more difficult for a parent than to bury a child. I morn with them and pray for them.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Just got a Facebook page. It is really kinds neat. I mainly signed up so that I could help monitor my 14yr old daughter's page. I am very computer and internet savvy and worry about her sometimes. I know she is growing up and I need to trust her more, but a lot of the things she is exposed to my wife and I did not have to deal with. Many things are the same though. So far she is doing great and Facebook seems to be the best of both worlds for her and us.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I'm Back!!

Sorry I have been neglecting my blog. Just a lot of things going on with family, work and such.

I will try to keep things updated more.

Let's see...

Saw FF2. Not that impressed. It was OK.

Saw Transformers. Great movie. Very entertaining. Very, very good special effects. Too busy at times though. My 6 yr old son had trouble keeping up with the action sometimes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

PortableApps saved the day

I know many of you don't really need to hear this, but this might help some who are just guests here and wondering if a portable version of your browser and email if the right way to go. I will try to make this a brief as possible.

My 14yr old daughter asked me the other day to upgrade her iTunes on our main PC. She said she had tried to but couldn't, because of admin rights. She did have admin rights at one time, but a bad experience with BearShare convinced me she needs monitoring on installs. iTunes did not like the fact that it was originally installed under her user id. After many attempts at fixing the registry for permissions, I attempted the ultimate fix. I uninstalled both QuickTime and iTunes. Seems sensible right? iTunes installer then told me that I needed Windows Installer 3.0. Again, seemed sensible. I went to the MS web site and attempted to download Installer 3.0. Of course the "Genuine Advantage" validation thing came up. MS would not validate my copy of windows, which I bought with this PC and have validated at least a dozen times before. Then after a restart a few hours later, I discovered that my PC was running so slow that it was not even functional. It took about 5 minutes to open each folder. At this point a reinstall of Windows seemed the likely fix.

Was I frustrated? Yes. Did I panic? No. I keep all of my important documents and programs on my flash drive, including my web browser Mozilla FireFox Portable Edition and email Mozilla Thunderbird Portable Edition . I of course use the PortableApps Suite Backup feature to backup my documents and application data 2 or 3 times a week. I then upload the backup files to my Gspace in case of a complete melt down of a PC.

I also needed to get document and other important files off of the PC before reinstall. Well, since Windows XP was running so slow, I decided to use a Knoppix Live CD . With the Knoppix CD I was able to burn DVD's of all the document's I needed.

I did forget one thing though. I have converted my wife from Outlook to Thunderbird, and I forgot to copy her profile over before the re-install. I of course did not have that problem, because all of my email's are either web based or on my flash drive.

I am almost done with the re-install and the estimated 200 Windows XP updates and SP's. Seems like every time, I reboot there are 30 or 40 more to do. If my wife could handle it and the rest of the world would get with it, I would dump Windows for Linux in a heartbeat. Let's face it though, most of the PC world is addicted to MS.

Thanks to John T Haller at PortableApps.com and all of the great developers there.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Life hits you hard sometimes

My wife and I have a 14yr old daughter. Since she entered middle school she has developed a very strong friendship with another classmate. Her parents were recently divorced when we met her. I am not exactly sure of the dates.

Over the last few years we have almost become a second family for this young lady. Her parents fought like an two ex's can tend to do. Her father had a bad drinking problem. This was one of the main reasons that they divorced. It was difficult for her to spend time with him after the divorce especially when the alcohol was around.

The worst thing happened the other night though. He took his own life. She is of course in shock. Regardless of how strained a relationship she had with him recently, this is still very devastating to a young lady. She is a great kid. My daughter is doing a great job of supporting her. We are trying to do everything we can to support her in this difficult time.

It's quite a shame that he had to put her through this. I will post more at a later date about the recovery process, especially how a young Chrisitan girl handles this tragedy.

The Kazoo Spartan

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

1st Post

This is just a test post to setup my blog.