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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Railroads and the Civil War

Teaching today has put me in the mood to post something historical — Railroads and the Civil War Some consider the American Civil War to be the first modern conflict. For example, it saw the first battle between ironclad warships, the first successful use of the submarine, warfare directed toward the civilian population (Sherman’s March

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For Crossword Puzzle Fans

I rarely do crossword puzzles myself, but I know they’re a very popular pastime.  They were even the storyline of an episode on The Simpsons. I mention this to share one of the most diabolical crossword-puzzle clues I’ve ever found.  I’m fond of using it in the classroom when I substitute teach and things get dull.

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Some History Quotes

I never got to be a full-time social studies teacher. But if I’d had, I would’ve used quotes to help put things in perspective. Here are some of my favorites — “History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.”  —  Napoleon Bonaparte “History will be kind to me for

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On the Academy Awards

I’m not a big movie fan myself, but it’s almost impossible to tune out the Academy Awards this weekend.  One of the most informative sources I’ve run across is American Public Media’s “Marketplace” radio business program.  Last week they did a series of stories on the Oscars, focusing on the less glamourous aspects of movie-making,

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Scrubbing the Gene Pool

Have you ever heard of the Darwin Awards?  As the website www.darwinawards.com explains: “The Darwin Awards salute the improvement of the human genome by honoring those who accidentally remove themselves from it… For example, one of the 2014 awards was a double for two men who tried to take a selfie with a wild elephant

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Word of the Day — Distaff

Previously I’d mentioned the importance of learning new words.  And the fascinating thing about language is it’s always evolving.  New words are created, meanings change, and new meanings are added.  How many words in English have only one meaning?  Not many, I would guess. My favorite example of how a word’s meaning can change is

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Zombies Around Us

Have you ever felt you were being controlled by someone else? Be glad you’re not a ladybug. These little aphid predators can fall victim themselves to a parasitic wasp in a particularly gruesome way.  These wasps sting ladybugs, leaving one egg inside. When the egg hatches, the larva eats its host from the inside out.

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The Magic Book

I’ve mentioned earlier about encouraging students to use a dictionary.  February 1st was the anniversary of publication of the first part of the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in 1884. According to the February 1, 2015 email from The Writer’s Almanac,  It covered from “A” to “Ant.” The Philological Society of London had conceived the

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Some Thoughts on Travel

Some time ago, I decided my life’s ambition should be to become so important that I would never have to wait on anyone again. Boy, do I have a long way to go. Actually, my President’s Weekend trip to Southern California for the Disneyana Fan Club Expo went pretty smoothly. And the 80+-degree temperature upon

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