Brian Cody Prosser Veterans Memorial

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005
This memorial day, rather than travelling to an event off the hill, I decided to visit the local Veterans Memorial in Frazier Park. For a brief moment in December, 2001, this mountain community became a media center of attention as news spread that Staff Sergeant Brian C. Prosser was the first US soldier to be killed in Afghanistan. Since then, things have been quiet. No media. No news. The media and the world may have forgotten, but the mountain communities haven't.

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In honor of Brian Cody Prosser and the men and women of our Armed Forces, past and present, who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom and for their country.

Thank you.

Brian Cody Prosser Veterans Memorial
Staff Sergeant Brian C. Prosser
5th Group Special Forces (Airborne) 3rd Battalion

17 July 1973 - 5 December 2001
"De Oppresso Liber"

In Honor of Brian Cody Prosser...American Patriot

Cody Prosser began life in Frazier Park, riding on these roads and trails in a baby carriage, pushed mostly by his mother.  He walked, played and worked on the same turf, living life as people do in this and other small towns throughout America.

After graduating from Maricopa High School in 1991, Cody joined the United States Army which took him to Fort McClellan, Alabama for basic training and military police school.  His first assignment was Fort Bragg, North Carolina as a member of the 21st Military Police Co. (Airborne).  Proud to be a soldier, he decided the military would be his career.

In 1998, Cody became a Special Forces Soldier.  He was re-assigned to 3rd Battalion 5th Group Special Forces (Airborne), stationed in Ft. Cambell, Kentucky.

Cody was called to serve his country in Afghanistan, fighting to defend America and the world against the threat of terrorism, following September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  On a hill just north of Kandahar, Afghanistan, Staff Sergeant Brian Cody Prosser lost his life, as did two other 5th Group soldiers.  The morning of the fifth day, December 2001.  These brave men successfully saved a village of mostly women and children from certain death by the hands of the enemy.  For his actions that day, he was awarded, posthumously, the Bronze Star with V for Valor.

Let this monument stand as our town's testimony of our undying support and gratitude for all men and women serving, or who have given their lives for the preservation of the freedoms we enjoy - with special pride for our own fallen hero, Cody Prosser.

Robert Scoble and his friend are soliciting ideas on how to get children interested in computers. Not just interested, but really interested - like taking one apart, building one, programming one from the ground up. These days, many children grow up playing with computers; they get into the games, but not what's inside.

When children grow up using computers, it's easy for them to be unimpressed with what's inside.

As a parent of four computer/PDA literate children, ages 12, 12, 7, and 5, here are a few suggestions that come to mind ...

Start early. Expose your children to computers as early as possible

We allowed our children to "play" with computers starting at age two. I purchased a "Jumbo Keys" keyboard that had oversized keys arranged alphabetically.

Be creative in explaining how computers work

       See Binary Carrots

Be selective about the software that they use

There is a lot of wonderful software out there; software that will encourage and promote critical thinking skills. There's also a lot of less-than-constructive software out there. I could do a sermon on this, but I won't. I'll simply recommend parental involvement.

OK, those are software-related suggestions. But, what about getting kids involved in building or programming computers? Consider these options ...

Build a LEGO robot and program it to do something

Get a LEGO Mindstorms set and build it with your kids. Its a great investment. Reusable, too. There's nothing quite like the experience of watching a creation that you have built and programmed run across the room and do something.
       Read: Productivity in motion

Join a FIRST Jr. Robotics Team

Help your child enjoy the excitement of team projects in technology and watch them experience the thrill of competition
Channel 9 guy thinks it's cool. Your kids will, too.
       See: The LEGO Mountaineers

Let them build their own computer

This year, I took four old laptops and helped my children set them up -- everything from formatting the drive, to installing XP, to loading service packs, applications and games. We've had a great time, and the kids have taken ownership of their computers. The process allowed for many length discussions about how and why things work.
       See: Why do they call them Radio Buttons, Dad?

Let them take a computer apart

Last year, for a science fair project Amy and I took apart an old computer or a printer (older the better; bigger stuff inside, lots of moving parts) -- all the way down to cutting open the hard drive and keyboard to see how they worked
       See: MackAcademy (Click on Science Fair)

What ideas do you have?

My proposal to Kathy

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005
May 26th, marks the 15th anniversary of my proposal to the kindergarten teacher in room 19.

The proposal was tricky. It involved short-term deception, an airplane, mystery, lots of roses, and many accomplices.

Fortunately, she said yes.

We've been through a lot together: better and worse, sickness and health, richer and poorer. Through it all, God has blessed our marriage. I've been faithful to her from day one and I will continue to be so. (She only has to share me with a robot, four daughters, and now, a Tablet PC. )

I am honored that she's my wife.

Perhaps I should see if she would agree to share the story?

Geography Fair 2005

Saturday, May 21st, 2005
This afternoon, our family participated in a homeschool geography fair. In all, 12 children participated. The Mack sisters taught us about Egypt (Wendy), Japan, (Amy), New Zealand (Emily), and Mexico (Kelly). This is the second year that Kathy's organized the event, and it was educational, entertaining, and filling -- we sampled food from each country.

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Emily, teaches us about Kiwi fruit from New Zealand


Michael Sampson, and his family (also homeschoolers) were kind enough to provide Emily with an inside look at their beautiful country. Michael sent pictures, newspapers, crafts and even money. [You're always welcome to send money, Michael.] He even called Emily to let her hear the funny way that New Zealanders talk. We'll get to hear more of that when he comes to visit us soon.

I really appreciate the opportunity to encourage our children to participate in public events like this. It's a great way to reinforce the instruction that goes on in the classroom at home. Between church, science fairs, geography fairs, speech, drama, and book report nights, our girls have become comfortable presenting in front of an audience.

2005 Lilac Festival

Tuesday, May 17th, 2005
Pine Mountain Club is known for its Lilac festival. People travel great distances to come up to the mountains to see the lilacs in bloom. Unfortunately, in past years, the Lilacs have bloomed either before or after the festival, but rarely during the festival.

This year's Lilac Festival was a real treat - we actually got to see Lilac's in bloom!

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The parade was entertaining, as usual, and the artisan booths were interesting. It was warm during the day, but cool in  the evening.  Mt. Pinos is still buried under several feet of snow. The waterfalls and streams are flowing again with run-off from the snow melt.

At this year's festival, I did something that I've always wanted to do ...  (Hint: It has to do with flying) More in another post.

How does a 5-year-old use a PDA?

Friday, May 13th, 2005
This week was a big week at the Mack Academy. Kelly gradated from the first grade. To celebrate, we gave Kelly a Palm IIIc.

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Kelly's no stranger to PDAs but this one is her very own - a fact that she's more than happy to remind her sisters about. Fortunately, her older sisters have Zire 72s that they saved for, and Emily will have her own Palm soon, too.

So, what does a 5 year-old keep on her PDA?
  • Games
  • Handy dandy [digital] notepad
  • Flash cards
  • Bible & Memory verse flash cards
  • Calendar
  • Lists of important  things to remember
  • Grandma's phone number
  • eBooks

I'm not pushing the kids with this -- just allowing them to use the same tools that dad uses. As I model best practices, like GTD, I hope that some of those will wear off on my children. This coming school year, we will begin to integrate PDA use into our routine. I'm in the process of equipping Kathy to prepare flash cards on her computer so that she can beam decks to the kids to study in the car.
I missed Happy TV-Turnoff Week and I did not even know. Many years ago, we shut off our TV; we've never looked back. It was difficult for about 3 days. Since then, we've found better things to do with our time - like visiting, playing games, and just being a family.

I do miss the history channel, but not the commercials - it's just not worth it. I can buy or rent quality programs. I can also check them out from the library. Life is too short to fill my head much of the garbage that the networks and their sponsors want me to see. Even when we did have broadcast television in our home, there was so little that represented our values, that Kathy and I spent most of our viewing time previewing and screening shows and their commercials from our children. Even our favorite classics on Nick-at-Nite (were talking many years ago) were routinely punctuated by commercials unbecoming a responsible network. It seems that the networks (or their advertisers) see little value in programs that are not violent, degrading, or graphic in more ways than one.  Well, I'm not watch'n it and I care too much about my children to let them watch television that won't show them what a functional home and marriage can be like.

Recently, we purchased the entire Little House on the Prairie series on DVD. I'd never seen this; I must have been too busy playing with computers. What a wonderful program -- and without commercials. Each week, we watch one episode with the children and then we talk about it. We've had a great time and we still have many seasons left to see.

Kathy and I have learned to be much more careful about what comes into our home and into our minds.

If you've not tried it, consider turning off your TV for a week. You may not miss it.

Use the force at breakfast

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005
A delightful way to make your 7 year-old happy is to eat your cereal with a Jedi light saber spoon - the kind that glows red while you're holding it.

[Update: 12:20 PM: Due to popular request, I've uploaded a photo:]

Jedi Light
Saber Spoon.jpg

Michael, you can get your very own, inside a box of Apple Jacks. Let me know if you can't buy AJ in NZ, and I'll send you one.