Archive for September, 2011

My son, John, who is in 9th Grade of A Abeka Academy recently wrote this review of A Time to Betray by Reza Kahlili:

A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran, the autobiography of Reza Kahlili, reveals the atrocities committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s government against its citizens and the world.  Reza, a former Revolutionary Guard, witnessed these first hand when his friend Naser was tortured and executed at Evin Prison. Enraged, Reza becomes a spy for the United States, gathering intelligence ranging from the Guards’ missions in Europe to the involvement of the Iranian government in the Lockerbie bombing. Through Reza’s life story, this autobiography reveals how dangerous nations can be that are deceived by false religions such as Islam.

Reza Kahlili, the titular CIA agent, had an interesting life leading up to his writing of this book. The book opens with Reza, an Iranian who had been educated in America, participating in the revolution against the Shah and becoming a Revolutionary Guard. After seeing the Guards execute his friend Naser’s innocent family members, Reza becomes a CIA spy in hopes that America will free Iran from the mullahs.

Reza’s experiences with the Revolutionary Guards show the reader how dangerous Islam is to everyone. Shortly after the execution of Naser’s family but before becoming a spy, Reza contacts Roya, a girl who had been arrested for her husband’s alleged involvement with the Mujahedin.  In Evin Prison, Roya recounts that she had been raped and tortured, first in solitary confinement and later with other female prisoners. She had been given her freedom, but only in exchange for her promising to be a temporary wife to a mullah. After telling Reza about her plight, Roya commits suicide out of the despair she felt at having to sell herself for her freedom.

Throughout the book, Reza witnesses how horribly Iran treated Americans, committing several terrorist attacks against the United States. Before becoming an agent, Reza is present at the demonstration that eventually takes several Americans hostage at the United States’ Consulate in Tehran. He later reveals to the CIA that this entire “spontaneous” demonstration had been planned in advance and approved by Khomeini. Later, after becoming a CIA agent, the author notes that he had heard that the Iranians were more or less directly responsible for the bombing of American and French forces in Beirut. Near the end of the book, Reza learns that the Lockerbie bombing had been planned directly by the Iranian government as revenge against the accidental American attack against an Iranian commercial airliner.  All these attacks are proof of the Iranian government’s insane hatred of the United States.

Iran and other Islamic countries are extremely dangerous to the entire world. This book’s insight into the Iranian government’s terrorist activities was interesting to the reader. The author did a decent job in convincing the reader that his stance was accurate, enraging the reader with the injustices committed.  On a side note, the cultural aspect presented, both Persian and Islamic, were interesting to read about. Using these, the author explained how people such as Ahmadinejad justify their actions. At the same time, the author explains how they are wrong and how he himself was wrong when he believed the Ayatollahs’ form of Islam. Although this book’s topic is extremely complicated, it is explained simply enough that most people can understand it.  The only negative comment I have is that it was full of despair until the very end.  This book is good for people who want to know the true story behind Iran and will not purposefully blind themselves from the truth, living in denial.  This book was enjoyable, and it was definitely worth reading. 

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Chicken Meets Rubber Duck

Our next stop at the State Fair was in the rabbit/poultry barn.  Of course, the rabbits were all very cute, but I must say that the loudest section belonged to the poultry!  The crowing, clucking, honking, and quacking was almost deafening!  Dan pointed out that there was definitely things going on in that room that we were not privy to!  🙂

We had a couple of memorable encounters with the poultry.  There were two ducks in side-by-side cages:  one was stretching out just as tall as he could stretch while the other one cowered in the corner.  It definitely appeared that there was a little bit of intimidation going on here!  The other funny encounter is pictured on this entry.  Kara had picked up a little rubber duck at one of the commercial exhibits, and for some unknown reason, she pulled it out of her pocket and held it up for a chicken to see.  That chicken was NOT impressed!  It just stared at that little duckie and glared at it as Kara moved it around.  The inevitable happened:  It reached out and pecked that silly thing!  (I guess it didn’t want any competition either! )

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Our family pack of tickets to the State Fair included tickets for the Sky Ride.  I hadn’t ridden one of those things since I was probably around 10-years-old!  Kara rode in the seat beside me and was a little nervous at first, but once she got used to it, she agreed that it was a nice, relaxing way to get across the fairgrounds!

We continued wandering around.  There were mostly animal exhibits on that side of the fair.  Cosette has always admired horses, so we stopped to watch some girls riding in a practice arena as they prepared for a show.

Then it was on to my personal favorite:  the goats.  I love those things!  If we lived on a farm, we would definitely have several of them around our place!  They are so smart and full of personality. Brock says I am “in my zone” when I’m around them.

We came across the petting zoo that was put on by the same group who did the pig races.  They had quite a variety of animals; everything from porcupines to camels!  I am happy to report that Brock’s life is now fulfilled–he said his life would be full if he could pet a zebra, and that goal was met!  🙂 There were some interesting animals called Patagonia Cavies that were very cute.  They kind of looked like a mix between a rabbit, kangaroo, and deer.  I assume from their name of Cavy that they are somehow related to guinea pigs, but they really don’t look like them.

There was a funny camel in the petting zoo.  People could buy cups full of animal feed to give to the animals.  The animals were all very tame and would come up and beg whether you had food or not, but that camel was pretty smart!  When someone gave him some of the food, he just reached out and took the whole cup, tipped it up to dump the food in his mouth, and proceeded to give the empty cup back to the person!  We all got a good laugh at that!


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Mysterious.....Very Mysterious!

Our day at the State Fair brought many interesting things to see and do.  When we saw this “pipeless” faucet, it sure brought back memories!  When I was a young girl, I remember seeing this same type of thing at our local county fair, and my Granddad used to give me a hard time about it!  “Don’t you see the pipes?  They’re kind of invisible, but if you look really carefully, you can make out the outline,” he’d say.  Well, guess what I told my kids?!  🙂

We had purchased a family pack of fair tickets, and that packet included several meal tickets.  Those tickets didn’t go very far, though! The food was good, but it was SO expensive, and the main eating area was very crowded and hectic. NOTE FOR NEXT YEAR:  GET EXTRA MEAL TICKETS!!!

The kids enjoyed the little State Fair train that gave us a tour of the fairgrounds. Luke and Cosette sat in the front seat of the train and had a lot of fun waving to all of the people.  They brought lots of smiles to the fair!

It was a cool day, so the little water park at the fair was not busy.  In fact, we were the only ones that stopped to play!  At first I was just going to take a picture of the kids by the water fountains, but that didn’t last long.  Soon they were all running through the fountains just as if it had been a hot, summer day! (Oh, and it wasn’t just the younger kids either.  My big boy had fun there too!)

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Right before lunch, we had a couple of really neat experiences at the State Fair.  We were just wandering around looking at various things, when an antique optical device caught our attention.  The man at the display told us that it was an old surveying tool from around 1875.  He let us all take a look through it, and that was pretty neat.  He went on to explain more about surveying, and told the kids that surveyors refer to Mount Rushmore as “Three Surveyors and Another Guy” because three out of the four men represented on that monument did surveying during their lifetimes.

Just down the street, I stopped to look at some woodworking home decor. There were neat wall hangings, clocks, plaques, etc.  The lady from the booth came to tell me more about them and said that they were made using a scroll saw with different types of wood from all over the world.  Even though there were many colors on the pieces, she said that no stains were used–only clear coats over the natural colors.  As we were talking, the lady’s husband asked Cosette if she would like to try cutting with one of their scroll saws!  Needless to say, Cosette jumped at the opportunity, and soon the other kids were trying it too.  The machines reminded me of sewing machines with the pedals that control the up-and-down speed of the blades, and guiding the wood to make the patterns seemed very much like sewing too.  The quickest thing the kids all discovered about cutting with a scroll saw is that you really need to hold that wood; otherwise, it jumps all over the place!  🙂 Cosette, John, Brock, and Luke all worked on cutting out little owl patterns; Kara worked on cutting out a jigsaw puzzle of a whale.  All of the activity at this display kind of drew a crowd–I hope some people bought some of the crafts on display!

So, here again, the kids got a taste of an expensive, but fun hobby.  First, it was the Lego Mindstorms Robots; later it was woodworking with scroll saws! Boy, those saws sure would make cutting out pinewood derby cars easy……..

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One of the first buildings that we went into had some interesting 4-H exhibits. We enjoyed looking at the many insect collections, model rockets, and woodworking in this building.  The boys were especially interested in the Lego Mindstorms projects that had been entered.  They have expressed interest from time-to-time in these programmable robotics kits, and now there is a Boy Scout Robotics merit badge that these robots would work perfectly for.  It’s kind of an expensive project, but if the boys show serious interest, it may be a good thing to consider.

I saw a woodworking project that took me back a few years ago!  My dad used to make wooden “wind screws.”  These things were almost pieces of art just to look at, but they were so interesting when they would spin in the wind!  I hadn’t seen one for years, but I saw one at the state fair and that brought back wonderful memories.

Another interesting thing we saw was a display that a 4-H’r had made about bullet weight vs. distance fired.  What caught our attention wasn’t the project really, but the display looked just like the displays that we put together for A Beka Academy science fair projects!  This display was very complete and well put-together, and we were quite impressed with it!

I had told my kids about the chainsaw sculptor that I remembered watching when I was just a young girl at the State Fair.  I was happy to see that they still had one of these artists at the fair, so we made it a point to find him.  It is hard to believe what beautiful sculptures can be made with a chainsaw!  These sculptures are very detailed and life-like.  When we were watching, this man was carving a wildlife sculpture that had an eagle on top, an owl on the side, and an open-faced coyote in the front. He was still working away when we left, but we enjoyed watching him add the fine details to the coyote for a few minutes.  I guess at the end of the fair, they auction off the pieces that were carved–I wonder how much they go for???

My next entry will be about some more interesting things that we got to see and experience for ourselves at the State Fair.

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