The Cactus Who Wanted to Be a Christmas Tree

Katie loves Christmastime. Getting presents is nice, and playing in the snow with her friends is fun, but what she likes best are all the pretty decorations...

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Sunny and Victor: Best Friends Forever

Bears and rabbits are not supposed to be friends, but the story of how Sunny Bunny and Victor Bear became “best friends forever” is a tale of friendship...

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Some Poems About Life

(30 Actually) Gems of Wit & Wisdom

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A Simple Test For Eye Cancer

I found out about this by accident. Another teacher happened to mention today that there is a YouTube video with some important information about eye cancer.  A mother took a flash picture of her toddler.  One eye had the familiar red reflection in the pupil (“redeye”), but the other eye reflected white.  Shortly thereafter, she

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Thoughts on Life-Changing Events

How many time has a life been changed when something totally unexpected happens? I was reminded of this recently when I read about a member of Hungary’s far-right Jobbik political party, and what happened when he was told  his grandparents on his mother’s side were Jewish.  Plus his grandmother was a Holocaust survivor.  The revelation

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Remembering the Sultana Disaster

Sometimes greed is a greater enemy than an opposing army. In late April 1865, the American Civil War was over and no soldiers were more eager to return home than released prisoners of war. Thus Camp Fisk, on the Mississippi River near Vicksburg, was a beehive of activity. Camp Fisk had been established for the

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How to Foil Nazis

The Nazis have just invaded your country and your life is in danger because you have two Nobel prizes you are safeguarding for friends — one is Jewish and the other is an opponent of National Socialism.  What do you do? That was the dilemma faced by Niels Bohr in 1940 when Germany occupied Copenhagen,

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Happy Birthday to the Postage Stamp!

From the May 1st edition of The Writer’s Almanac  — “On this date [May 1st] in 1840, the first official adhesive postage stamp was issued in Great Britain. Up until the late 1830s, the recipient of the letter was supposed to pay upon delivery. Rates were inconsistent: postage was calculated based on number of sheets of paper, and the distance

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Some Tips on Collecting Autographs

Here are some practical tips on collecting autographs from my days as an editor in the collectibles business. Who wouldn’t like to have a memento from their favorite movie star or sports hero? But the problem with collecting everyday items is verifying authenticity. If someone claims to have a shirt that once belonged to Elvis, how

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So You Want To Be a Teacher…

I’m in the middle of a long-term substitute teaching job — six out of seven weeks, and it’s reminding me about all the little irritants that come with teaching. I’m not talking discipline.  I’ve had discipline problems in the past, and there are none in the five classes I have in this current job.  I’m

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