Best or Worst of Times

Charles Dickens wrote the following over 150 years ago:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

Fifteen years ago terrorists boarded planes and rammed them into the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon, and another plane crashed in Pennsylvania. Since that time, America has certainly experienced the worst of times. We have been involved in war almost since the terrorist attacks. We have engaged in other conflicts. We have suffered a recession and been the victim of devastating natural disasters. We have seen a country roiled by injustice and corruption.

Now, as we prepare for a presidential election, we see the culmination of using only the “superlative degree of comparison.” Each political party is at once both the best and the worst. The politicians making up the party are saints and evil. Their policies will either result in the absolute salvation or the utter destruction of the nation.

Many may find it difficult in all of that to find the best of times, or even good times. However, the good times do exist and persist in America. Though some may argue that its light is diminished, it is still a city on a hill. The strength and the good of America is in its people. I have recently had the privilege of getting to know many service members. Their desire to defend America gives hope for its future. This strength is not unique to service members. I have seen it in families in the Midwest and on the West coast. America is not perfect, but it is strong.

As the Civil War wound down, Abraham Lincoln described his vision of how to bind up America’s wounds:”With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.” Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, 1865


Where have you seen inspiration this week?


5 Resources to Get Your Kids to Start Coding

Opportunities to learn how to code have exploded! They are everywhere. From bootcamps to online resources, as an adult, if you want to learn how to code, and you are willing to put in the time and effort, you can learn how to code. If you are interested, here are several links to some online resources.

I read an article recently on Scientific America’s website about an individual who saw a lack of diversity the people who worked at Silicon Valley corporations. She set out to increase that diversity by building an organization that educates k-12 students about coding. It looks like the organization is continuing to grow and succeed.

This got me thinking about the resources that are available for my kids. I know that my son isn’t even two yet, but I want to make sure that as he grows up and goes out on his own that he is fully equipped to be successful. I don’t need him to be the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates (although I wouldn’t complain if that’s what happened), but I do want to make sure that he has the knowledge and skills to be competitive and productive. I don’t want him to miss out on any opportunities.

If your school doesn’t provide coding classes, check out these paid and free resources. Some of them I have used. Others just looked interesting.

Robot School: This is an iOS app intended for kids age 7 and up. This is a game that teaches kids about coding. Specifically, kids will learn procedures, loops, and conditional instructions. If your kids can tackle a project without much prodding, then this is the resource for them. Codecademy teaches people how to code through lessons. It is a step-by-step method that builds on itself as you progress through the lessons. The lessons are simple and should be easy enough for older children. Learn everything from HTML to Python to PHP and Ruby. bills itself as an education non-profit striving to help more students code. They have courses geared towards younger, middle-aged, and older students. Lessons focus on everything from building games to experimenting with JavaScript. If you’re a teacher, they even have lesson plans.
Paid: This is a video-based learning platform. They have lessons available on a wide variety of topics, including coding. If you or your kids are more visual learners, this resource is for you. While they do charge a monthly fee to use the site, check out to see if your local library provides free access. Unlike, Udemy charges for each class you use. They frequently have discounts. This resource is probably more suitable for older kids who can sit through a class and understand lessons taught.
Do your kids code? What resources do they use?