Fifteen Favorites: Living Well


  1. Hiking to the Top of Mt. Charleston
  2. Math Game
  3. Reviewed: Bikram Yoga Summerlin
  4. A Las Vegas Scottish Ceilidh!
  5. 10 Things I Love About Las Vegas
  6. Your Guide to Las Vegas Libraries
  7. Adventure and Refreshment at Mount Charleston
  8. Download Electronic Items From Your Library
  9. The Las Vegas Children’s Book Festival
  10. Journals For Little Kids
  11. The Joy of Indexing
  12. Always Be Looking Forward To Things
  13. Birthday Letters
  14. Twelve Things That Give Me Hope
  15. Inspiring Obituaries

Fifteen Favorites: Language & Literature


  1. 25 Years of Pulitzer Winners and Me
  2. The Cold Darwinian Erasers of Editorial Evolution
  3. Interplanetary Real Estate Law
  4. G-H-O-T-I Spells Fish
  5. Chiasmus in Helaman 13:29-39
  6. The Best American Short Stories of the Century
  7. Aristophanes Smackdown: Frogs Vs. Clouds
  8. Is Mario A Male Maria?
  9. Scriptures, Cautionary Tales, and “Inappropriate” Literature
  10. My Ten Most Influential Books
  11. Recommended Reading: The Deluxe Transitive Vampire
  12. Recommended Reading: An Instance of the Fingerpost
  13. On the Joy of Sentence Diagramming
  14. Lexicon-o-rama
  15. “Required New Yorker Short Story Format”

Fifteen Favorites: Humor


  1. Five Gross Things You Might Not Know About Babies and Childbirth
  2. Ten Best Simpsons Episodes
  3. Crucible Joke
  4. Afterlife Chit Chat
  5. Speaking of Aardvarks…
  6. How Men Measure Things
  7. Jeeves and Wooster Stories, Reviewed in the Style of Jeeves and Wooster Stories
  8. I Hate Romeo
  9. Edgar Allan Poe Writes Real Estate Ads
  10. Merry Pirate Birthday!
  11. Silly Serendipity
  12. America’s Finances Stabilize: USA Wins Lottery, Gets Inheritance, Sells Stuff On E-Bay
  13. Movies So Bad They’ve Never Been Released On DVD?
  14. Reviews Of Movies I Haven’t Seen
  15. The Shocking Secret Truth About The Math CULT!

Fifteen Favorites: Education


  1. Voluntary Martyr Teachers
  2. Jackie Chan on Homework. Sort of.
  3. Young Abraham Lincoln Gets an Education
  4. Let’s Not Tell Students the Sky Is Falling
  5. When I Became A Real Teacher
  6. Square Fairness Pegs and Round Reality Holes
  7. Teachers’ Cars
  8. If the Real World Worked the Way Students and Parents Think School Should Work
  9. In Praise of the English Nazi
  10. What’s Wrong–And What’s Right–With Student Writing
  11. Twelve Notes About Summer School
  12. Four Bad Teachers
  13. Lesson Plan For Teaching Evaluation Writing
  14. The Single Purpose of All Education
  15. 50 Things New Teachers Need To Know  &  50 More Things New Teachers Need To Know

Fifteen Favorites: Arts


  1. Recommended Listening: Bill Miller
  2. Classic Jazz for a Rainy Monday
  3. The Classic Mystery! Intro
  4. Kill the Wabbit!
  5.  “Let’s Do It”
  6. The Best Movie You’ve Never Seen
  7. Reviewed: Eraserhead
  8. Toy Story 3 On Family and the Meaning Of Life
  9. Film Review: The Dead
  10. Egalitarian Majesty: Dvorak’s Symphony no. 7
  11. Recommended Listening: Schubert’s Piano Quintet In A Major
  12. The Raft of the Medusa
  13. Skills of An Artist
  14. Mozart’s Requiem: Rage Against the Grave
  15. “Out of my stony griefs, Bethel I’ll raise”

Taking Inventory: Greatest Hits and Where I Go From Here

I’ve written about 1200 posts on this blog, in about four and a half years.  I enjoy it, but is it worth my time?  I recently looked over my bucket list, and I noticed that there’s nothing about blogging on there.

I went back over every post this summer, editing a few and deleting two–more housekeeping is probably needed–but I chose my fifteen favorite posts from each category, mostly to guide me in the future.  What’s working for me here, and what isn’t?  What’s been done to death, and what needs to be examined deeper?  These lists, to be posted over the coming week, should help direct me.

I want to write shorter posts–more bulletins, fewer essays.

I want more reviews of things I’ve read, seen, heard, tried, experienced.  This should be a chronicle of joy.

I want less ranting about our school system, parents, troubled students, etc., and more lesson plan ideas, useful anecdotes, and slices of life in a challenging but wonderful career.

I want more quotes from books and authors I love.  I want to scribble some quick flash fiction.  I want this blog to be my commonplace.

I want less commentary on “issues” and more exploration of principles.

I want more devotional entries, and more scripture study insights.  I love apologetics, but as in political opinions, what do I really have to add?

(More humor that’s actually funny would be nice.)

I started a journal for private reflection this summer.  This blog should be everything else.

I will probably write less and post less often; as my goals tell me, I have better things to do.

Reviewed: Feynman’s Six Easy Pieces

For years, I’ve wanted to read Richard Feynman’s Six Easy Pieces, the beginning of his famous lectures on physics at MIT.  It looked like such a great review of the high school science I didn’t pay attention to at the time, and I’d heard so much about what a great teacher Feynman was.

Now that I have, I’m disappointed.  Feynman’s teaching is good, but hardly legendary.  He throws in a few good quips and analogies; clearly, he wants to be accessible, but his presentation still feels typical.  Maybe it was more refreshing at the time.

But half a century after these lectures were given, I can’t recommend them as the introduction they’re meant to be.

In the first chapter, Feynman complains that his illustrations of atomic particles must be restricted to two-dimensional drawings.  So I went on YouTube and found the video below, including the series that follows it (in fact, the whole “Best of Science” channel is excellent—there’s a great source for some basic science intros).

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O Brother Where Art Thou: The Music

Who couldn’t like a movie where Homer’s Odyssey is set in the depression-era American south?  But what popped into my head lately wasn’t the movie itself, but just the music.  It’s amazing: it brought regional bluegrass to the attention of the mainstream, and everybody was gobsmacked by what we’d been missing.  If you haven’t seen it (or heard it), here’s a few highlights:

Alison Krauss, singing a gospel standard here, also harmonizes as a siren on the track below.


Doesn’t everyone do their laundry that way?  I feel like there’s supposed to be a lesson here…


In the film, this gravel-soaked threat of a song is used at a Klan meeting!


And, of course, the Grammy-winning…


Flannery O’Connor

“The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may well be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience. When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal ways of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock — to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures.”

–Flannery O’Connor, 1925-1964

Hiking to the Top of Mt. Charleston

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest son and I tried hiking to the top of Mt. Charleston, which is 20 miles northwest of Las Vegas and at nearly 12,000 feet is the highest peak in southern Nevada.  We only made it halfway, but a few days ago I went back and did the whole thing.

I went up the south trail, and down the north trail.  Those are about eight miles each, and with the short hike up the highway to get back to my car, the whole trip was 17 miles.  That took me ten hours (5.5 hours to get up, 4.5 hours to get back down).  I drank seven water bottles during the hike, FYI.  Here are some pictures I took along the way:

I took this picture just to capture that blue sky. The sky never gets that deep of a hue down here in the valley. This is in a meadow at about 10,000 feet.

Looking southwest over rural Nevada from 10,000 feet.

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