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Wednesday, March 20

Electoral College

Twitter is all of a buzz seeing many wanting to get rid of the electoral college.  It's nothing new as this video was done in 2015 shows it's been in the works for a while now.

There are many reasons for popular vote should not be in practice, but I think the biggest argument is people's failure to understand that on election day, especially for the presidential election, is NOT ONE election that takes place. It is 51 separate elections 50 states plus DC. Each state's election is sovereign and independent. So electoral college points should be awarded based on how the people from that state voted.

Some states split their electoral college votes instead of being all or nothing. I was thinking that would be a good compromise until I read this morning that doing that would result in no winner.

One thing for sure is that we can't go by national popular vote. If we do away with the electoral college we are then moving from 51 separate elections taking place simultaneously it will be one election. If we move to one election I believe would have to make sure all polls open and close the same time, regardless of time zone differences, the same type of ballot machines are used and polling places set up the same. Perhaps even 2 different ballots. One for the national election, one for the state elections.  It wouldn't be as simple as just tallying up the national votes as people seem to think it will be.

I also annoyed that many states including my own, IL, are willing to let electoral college votes go to the national vote and not what the majority of the people in IL wants!

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Monday, March 18

Meal Planning

My meal planning is very much like my homeschool planning. I wing it! I have a general idea of what I want, am going to spend, etc. I always do much better when I have a complete plan vs just buying what I see while I'm shopping.

Shopping this weekend while I did get some really good deal made me remember how I saved money when I took the time to browse the sale fliers, matched coupons if I could, and wrote out a menu for the week. I know food prices have gone up over the years, but when you realize what you spent for a couple of days in years past would have been enough to last you 2 weeks it's time for some change!

Monday, March 11

Tell it to Mrs. Kravitz

I believe that in very general terms it seems society is more and more like Mrs. Kravitz. The busy body that is so worried about what everyone else is up to and thinks nothing of calling the authorities or anyone else when they are sure the neighbor is up to no good, even without any more proof other than their feelings.

Illinois has TWO pending bills. Both bills if passed will change the compulsory ages.  The first is SB 2075. SB 2075 is meant to change the compulsory age from 6 to 5 and make Kindergarten mandatory.  The second SB 1478 will change the compulsory age from 17 to 18.

Friday, March 8

We Need More Gun Control

We need more Gun Control is the chant you here anytime anymore when some kind of gun violence happens.

Yesterday, a local tragedy made national headlines. I had many friends and acquaintances that knew where I live, but not enough to know if I lived in the immediate area of the tragedy message me asking if I or my family are okay. What's going on? Did I know more than what was being shared on the national news?

Tuesday, March 5

Just Make A New Church

Of course, I'm not Methodist, but what I don't understand is why those that don't agree with the policies and reaffirmation of those policies just don't start their own church. Why don't they just break away?

I mean throughout church history that is what has happened. That's is what happen with King Henry - Anglican. Luther, Calvin, Knox and the others. That's how Mormonism, Baptist, Amish, etc all came about. Granted I'm oversimplifying it, but that's how they came out to be.

I think that's why there is different sects of Lutheranism: ELCA, Missouri Synod, WELS, etc.

Monday, March 4

Internet and Children

MOMO Challenge - I'm sure by now you have heard of the MOMO challenge or simply known as MOMO. There are other reports now that are suggesting the momo challenge is a hoax, similar to the tide pod challenge that made it across the net.

I know from various news articles many children did come across momo videos, maybe not the exact way as reported, but yes kids have come across them. The video themselves are real and they are disturbing, and they suggest the children do self-harm and other things.

One thing that struck me in several of the news videos and articles I came across is how many parents were announcing the household rules regarding how and when the child can access the internet is changing. One news video had a child about 6-9 years old, who came across momo videos and had to start going to counseling (because of the videos), new house rule is no more youtube unless mom or dad is watching with me.

All I could do is think: Why wasn't the parent watching with a child that young anyways? Sure I have been on various social media, forums for the last 20 years, and blogging since 2008. My kids now nearly 17/18 have had tablets since they were about 10 -- but I can tell you it wasn't free range or not monitored.

We have always had some kind of filtering on our computer. Open DNS and when the kids were younger we paired it with various other filters but settled on K9. Our kids' tablets are wifi only tablets. Where they require wifi to access the internet, which means they were on our network only and thus the internet was being filtered by Open DNS.

My kids didn't even have smartphones until 6 months ago. They still have tracfones, but were upgraded to smartphones 6 months ago, this is the first time they have been given access to the internet without any kind of filtering -- seeing they can access via the cell phone network, but they do not use it much because they have a very limited data. Both only use it to really access emails on the go. And that upgrade only came about because one child's phone broke and I could not replace it with what they had. The replacment would have been a bit of a downgrade and I didn't want to do that.

Even though we have always used filters of some short, I have never given my kids free range. When they were younger the computer was always in the kitchen or living room. They mostly got on to access a certain game (we had loaded on the machine) or certain online game and I or my husband went the website and login them in etc.

I could never imagine just handing a toddler, preschooler, early elementary age child and allowing them to just surf the web for various videos or just scroll YouTube, even with what should be "kid safe" search engine.

Even when the kids got the tablets they were able to surf and search more, but I was monitoring what they were doing if not by looking at their device, by logging into the Google account  we set up for those tablets via the computer and looking at the search history, what apps they were downloading, etc. Although all apps downloaded had to be approved by us first -- so if I got on and saw an app I didn't approve they got their device taken away! The kids knew we were checking in and often checked in so we rarely had to do discipline.  They asked us when they wanted a new app, they came and told us when they saw something weird or uncomfortable.

The only time I can think of when I had to discipline one, harshly, and take away all devices and internet access was when my son got on my computer and saw I had left my facebook account open. He decided to PM my mom with some gifs. The gifs he was picking were harmless, but here I am in the living room and my phone goes off with a notification I can see quickly my account has been "hacked" or something it glitching.  Long story short I was getting flustered and vocal, telling my husband my account is hacked, something is wrong, messaging FB to say something is broken, and my daughter notices that my son is laughing --so she looks and sees that it has been him all this time. I immediately took all of my son's devices and told him 1 week without. I also explained to him how that is not good, etc. Sure it's partly my fault for leaving my account open on my computer, but just because my account was open doesn't mean he had that right. And if it was just one or two gifs or messages to my mom I may have laughed it off, but he kept sending it and must have sent it at least 100 times.

Anyway, I just don't understand why parents are giving their kids free range on the internet and allowing them to freely search for videos or another medium with no regards to their safety. Even so-called filters nothing is fooled prove. All filters, paid and free, require parents to be still pro-active and present and fully aware of their kids' activities.

I often tell people that filters are like screens with a hole in it. Having the screen is better than no screen, but because of the hole things still, get in.  For at least a decade now law officials, doctors, counselors, and others have been telling parents to monitor their children's internet activities. They publish guidelines like:

1. use the device in the public place of the house
2. teach them not to chat with strangers
3. monitor what they are doing
4. use filters

I don't know what has changed? I don't know if people, in general, feel that filters have gotten better? Or if the kid is accessing youtube via youtube kids they don't have to monitor? Or is it because kids younger are getting devices of their own and with apps targeted for younger and younger groups we just think it's okay?  After all, there is now "kid safe" tablets or other kids tablets which 10 years ago when my kids got their first tablets there wasn't really any of that. Well there was but the selection was limited and the prices were crazy expensive, but not there are more options and the prices are dropping.  Now you can get tablets marketed as kids tablets with kid-friendly cases starting at $60 where when my kids were younger those tablets where easily $200 or more.

I read one article that said that part of the problem is the kids, today, are growing up in it, and parents have not -- so parents are behind the curve on it. Well, I guess I would feel that is true for my folks and grandparents generation, but these parents are my peers so I have a hard time believing that.

Sure internet, especially as we know it now, wasn't really happening until I was in high school, but still, that is old enough to understand the "dangers" out there -- after all if anything you were accessing the internet in the "wild west days". Therefore I feel like that's not a good reason for it either. I would think that would make parents even more concern and cautious, not the opposite.

Bottom Line: No filter is going to protect your children. Filters help, kids safe searches help, other tools help, but at the end of the day, you still have to parent and be proactive. You still have to monitor what your child is doing. You are still going to have to talk to them. Check in with them. Have open communications. Discipline when necessary. Set up new rules and adjust filters when necessary. Oh, and when disciplining: discipline when it comes to deliberate things, like my son did, not when they accidentally come across something....

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