Macaroni and Cheese

This recipe was pretty popular with those of us who were still awake when I made it.

Macaroni and Cheese (no baking)

7 oz. macaroni (about 1 ½ cups)

2 Tablespoons butter

2 Tablespoons flour

¼ teaspoon dry mustard


1 cup milk

5 oz. Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Boil noodles according to package directions.

Mix flour, mustard, salt, and pepper in a small measuring cup.

Melt butter on medium heat.

Stir in flour all at once.

Add milk slowly stirring to keep smooth.

Slowly add in shredded cheese.

Drain noodles and toss into cheese suace.

Serve hot!

Serves about 5 people who've already had dinner or two people who haven't.



Joseph's view of Journalism

Joseph was instructed to post a few thoughts on Journalism, for his FLVS course:

When I first started taking Journalism from FLVS, I understood a Journalist to be someone who reported the news—whether through a news agency, or as an individual. I knew that the purpose of Journalism was to disseminate accurate, unbiased information regarding current events, in an ethical manner. (Opinion writing is fine, as long as it is clearly labeled as “Opinion”)

“Ethical manner”, of course, means providing information in a way which will ultimately honor God.

Now that I’m nearly completed the Journalism course, my view of Journalism has slightly changed. The biggest things the course has done for me, is to help me differentiate between when “fact” and “opinion” are being presented. Often, I note that large news sources (Such as Fox, CNN, and Politico) are biased either for or against something (the Occupy movement, for example) simply because of the adjective they use. Adjectives must be carefully, picked.

(By the way, this is an opinion piece!)

As for my future career, I am sure it will involve Journalism in some way. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and often have contemplated pursuing a career as a news/sports anchor. I believe the career field for aspiring Journalists grows larger with the advent of new technology. Though departments change, the need for unbiased reporters with integrity is still vitally important.

A good Journalist

For Journalism, Joseph was asked to write about a Journalist he admired:

The man I admire as a competent Journalist, is Mr. Marvin Olasky. Shortly after his college career, Marvin Olasky wrote several books. Soon afterwards, (and in the midst of writing his books) he became a journalism professor at the University of Texas and a senior fellow of Acton Institute. Besides his work at the University of Texas and Action Institute, Mr. Olasky has been very active at the World Magazine. In 1990 he joined World Magazine, and four years later he became editor. In 2001, he became Editor in Chief. An Editor in Chief reviews content prior to publication. This covers language, grammar, punctuation, pictures, photo captions, and (possibly) budgetary matters. The integrity and eye for detail required for a job such as this is immense. Evidently, Mr. Olasky has both. Mr. Olasky has a great amount of experience, and is at the top of his career. Through his studies at Acton, King's, and the University of Texas, he has amassed a good deal of knowledge. This is evident through the many insightful books he has written. His decades of service at World Magazine reflect his reliability.


University of Texas


Thoughts on Writing

For Joseph's Journalism course, he was required to post his thoughts on writing:

Writing has existed for many millennium.  Writing is used to document history, record current events, and many other things.  The written word is vital to me as a Christian.  Having the Bible (God's words) lets me learn many things about God, and about history which I may not have otherwise been able to know.  Without the Bible, I would know so much less about God, and his work in history. 

To me, writing is an essential part of life.  Though I enjoy writing, I also see writing as an opportunity.  Just like speaking—writing can let others know what you think, whether it is a novel, an editorial piece, or a persuasive essay.  Being able to coherently describe why I believe what I believe, is important to me as a Christian.

While writing, I have often come across the question: "Is it possible to write impartially?".  I believe that it is very hard—but possible.  Most credible news organizations pride themselves in impartiality.  Though their reporting is often biased, they at least recognize the importance of an "opinion-less" report.  When one wants to report without bias, it is important to examine adjectives (which often show partiality) and word choice.  Reporters who consider themselves "unbiased" often fail to be so because of poor wording choices.


Journalism: Advertisement effects

My Journalism course instructed me (Joseph) to observe ways in which I was influenced through media messages. As is their nature, advertisements tend to appeal to the feelings of prospective customers. Although I rarely buy things which I had not previously (and meticulously) considered purchasing, I noticed there is one way in which I am severely affected by advertisements.

While at Texas Roadhouse, I was looking over the menu, and I noticed some scrawled wording under the beverage section which read “Slow brewed Sweet Tea”. On the end of the word “Slow”, a cowboy hat was perched. I was leaning towards purchasing sweet tea instead of the considerably less-pricey glass of water.

I naturally like sweet tea and the words “Slow-Brewed” implied that extreme care and effort were put into the creating of the said sweet tea. “Slow-brewed” is much more appealing to me than “Instant”. “Slow-brewed” implies discretion and timing were considered important while this tea was created. The second thing which appealed to me, was the Cowboy hat, located on the scrawled wording. It (along with the theme of Texas Roadhouse) appealed to the inner “southerner” which is engrained in me. Believe me—if that hat had been a flat-brimmed skateboarder’s hat with a NY Yankees logo on it, I would not have bought that sweet tea.

The sweet tea advertisement, though it contained no catchphrases, effectively persuaded me to nearly purchase their product. It did so because it caught my attention through its marketing of sweet tea is distinctly southern, and through creating the impression that time and care were invested in its creation.

Through the observation of this fact, I now know that I am susceptible to advertising which markets itself as something which is “southern”. From now on, I will definitely use discretion when buying things marketed as such.

By the way, the Slow Brewed Sweet Tea tasted great!


Elijah's Poem

Elijah wrote this poem for a reading assignment:

The Place

I went to a place
Where the zebras do race,
But it wasn't a zoo;
It had elephants too,

When I tried to feed one
It was hard to get done.
For what did that silly elephant do?
Instead of the carrot, it sucked on my shoe!



Once again, we bring you a post which is part of Joseph's FLVS Journalism class requirements. This post pertains to the question, "What does it mean to be ethical?"

Being ethical, as described by the Webster’s New International Dictionary is anything, “Of or relating to moral action, motive, or character.” That, understandably, is hard to understand unless we define what morals are. Morals, as defined by the same dictionary are “Characterized by practical excellence, or springing from, or pertaining to, man’s natural sense of what is right and proper.”

An ethical and morally upright person will make the right choices. What the “right choice” is, however, is impossible to define apart from the Bible. God’s word defines sin as “lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). God’s word is the absolute authority which is “the law”. Thus, an ethical and morally upright person will follow the laws of the Bible.

In the case of the situation described in the lesson—where I observe a friend of mine sharing personal information with a stranger online— any decision made would be handled with care. As a Christian, I would handle this situation prayerfully, and I would seek the advice of my parents before making a decision. However, the steps I might take could be the following.

I would first approach my friend, and tell him that their choice to share personal information was a dangerous one and must be resolved. I would then suggest that they approach their parents regarding how to resolve the issue. If they are defiant, I would come back with another friend who could provide more insight on why it is important to talk to our parents. If this approach did not change their opinion—I would go to my parents and explain the situation. They would be able to carefully handle the situation in an appropriate manner.

The harder a decision may seem, the more important it is to successfully resolve that said issue. Insight from parents is almost always the best choice, when something may be hard to determine. For adults, parents—or respected older men and women can provide insight on life issues.

Ethics apply to everywhere in our lives. In Journalism, acting ethically can be harder than most may think. The temptation to print sensational news, pull from other stories, and act dishonestly is constantly a factor in the workplace. Doing the right thing—obeying the Bible—may be hard, but is always beneficial.


The Holy Bible

Webster’s New International Dictionary


Independence Day 2011

Abigail, Ezra, Elijah and Anna celebrating shortly after swimming.

This Independence Day in Keystone Heights was just as busy (and fun) as usual. For a few of us, it started as early as 7:00, when Papa, Daniel, Joseph, and Nehemiah helped prepare the fire trucks at KHVFD for the parade.

After the parade, most of us ended up at the Volunteer Fire Station, which always holds an open house and serves as the unofficial "end" of the parade. For Daniel and Joseph, as Fire Explorers, the 4th of July still had its best part in store...Fireworks: up close!

Daniel, and Joseph were able to be on Volunteer Brush Trucks, very close by the firework launching site. As usual, this provided a spectacular view of the Keystone Heights Firework show. Joseph, in fact, viewed an up-close mishap. In Joseph's words:

I was laying on my bunker gear, which I had spread out on the grass, when I realized that the latest firework had exploded a little lower than normal. I sat up to look at the launching station--which was about 200 feet in front of us, when suddenly a firework exploded at ground level! All the pyrotechnics at the site dove to the ground as cardboard shrapnel and large embers flew in every direction. Mr. Curtis, the volunteer who was manning Brush 10, grabbed a shovel and headed off towards a spot fire (a fire started by floating embers) which was about 3 feet in diameter. Woods 10 soon doused a small tree which had caught fire, and proceeded to hose down grass which had begun to smolder. We talked to the pyrotechnics who, though shaken, managed to finish up the show with a (slightly shortened) grand finale.
Our Independence day celebrations were just as enjoyable as ever. Just as with all celebrations, we mustn't fail to remember the servicemen who, for generations past, have given the greatest sacrifice in defense of our nation.

Though our nation often strays far off the path which our founding fathers intended it to be on, we must remember that despite it all--the freedom which we experience in America is something to be treasured, and defended for it is increasingly uncommon throughout the world.

Below is another article by Joseph, written for his FLVS Journalism course.

For an FLVS Journalism, I watched almost an hour of local news, put forth by News4Jax. Some of the things I was supposed to look out for were: expressions of opinion (a big no-no in reporting) the effectiveness of informing the viewer, and things done correctly or incorrectly.

I started watching the news at about 5:30, and finished shortly before 6:30. News4Jax, just like every other station at that time, was running headlines about the recent verdict of the Casey Anthony case, among a few other topics. News4Jax effectively presented both sides of the story, by showing clips of citizens who voiced both support and opposition to the outcome of the trial. The reporters themselves did not express their opinion, but merely prodded those whom they interviewed, to give detailed responses as to why the felt as they did.

Besides the Casey Anthony case, News4Jax covered topics such as beach cleanup after Independence day celebrations, questions concerning Governor Scott’s policies, and others. As I said before, News4Jax did a splendid job of keeping their opinion from conflicting with the facts.

Only in one instance, did I see opinion expressed, and it can easily be excused. John Gaughan (in my opinion—the best weatherman ever) discussed the upcoming weather using terms such as “I think”, “most likely” and “probably”. Though this is an expression of opinion, it can be excused because the subject of weather is an art of prediction—and consequently a knowledge opinion.

In conclusion, News4Jax was effective in informing me about topics regarding both local and national news. It was presented in a professional light, and the viewer was given the straight facts regarding the issues. I cannot think of any particular way in which News4Jax could have presented the news, as they did so extremely well.




How newspapers make money

Another update by Joseph about Journalism! This post focuses on how Newspapers make money. You can expect an update about the family shortly after the Fourth of July!

In today’s day and age, many newspapers are struggling to stay afloat. Nonetheless, many manage to do so successfully. An important part of running a business, is making money! How do you think newspapers make money?

The first way newspapers make money is through subscription services, when people buy an online or hard-copy. Subscriptions usually entail consumers paying a monthly (or yearly) fee, in exchange for the delivery of the newspaper (either through hard-copy or an “e-version”).

The second (and most likely primary) way newspapers make money is through advertisements. In the Wall Street Journal, a full page black and white ad can cost up to $164,300! A color ad usually costs about $210,300! As you can see, for large newspapers, the majority of profit is made through those who want to advertise in a newspaper. As technology advances, many newspapers also provide online articles. Advertisement space on large newspaper websites is in nearly as large demand as broadsheet advertisements.

In conclusion, newspapers make money in two simple ways: Subscription services, and advertisements. Both are effective, and both are adapting to technological advancements.

My sources were:




American Journalism

Once more, this is a post written by Joseph regarding Journalism. As mentioned in a previous post, this is a requirement of his FLVS course. Please leave comments, as he appreciates any feedback regarding his writing!

Journalism in the Western Hemisphere, particularly the new land of “America” can trace its roots to Captain John Smith (founder of Jamestown) who published a newsletter entitled “Newes from Virginia”. Others periodically found their way into the growing English colonies. Eventually though, “American” journalism officially began when the “colonies across the sea” sought independence from an increasingly immoral and irresponsible government.

Samuel Adams and the “Sons of Liberty” spread word of British movements through the “Journal of Occurrences” which appeared in several colonial newspapers. Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” was disseminated through newspapers as well—describing that the only way for revolution (return to the norm) was through war. Over 20 newspapers carried the Declaration of Independence—spreading the word through the colonies about the now self-declared nation of America. The advent of the printing press was vital to the spread of news throughout the colonies. Men were able to debate for or against the Revolutionary war in an open forum, where others could observe and learn from their debates. Many ministers preached the importance of separating from England through their pulpits! Considering that most preachers of the day pre-wrote and read their sermons, this can be considered a form of Journalism.

After the Revolutionary war, when America was recognized as an independent nation, they set about creating a stable government. When the Constitution was created, it took many years for it to be accepted by all the states. The Federalist Papers, written by Alexander Hamilton, were disseminated throughout newspapers in all the states. The Federalist Papers described, in detail, the logic behind the Constitution, and the importance of accepting it. Soon after its acceptance by the states, ten amendments (The Bill of Rights) were added to guarantee certain core freedoms.

The Bill of Rights guaranteed basic freedoms—freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to “bear arms”, etc. By distinctly marking these rights of citizens, the Founding Fathers made it clear that the government could never intrude into the basic human rights of Americans. Since the time of the Revolutionary War, the Government has, in part, disregarded many of these core freedoms. The restrictions on publishing books, the PATRIOT act, and “gun control”, are a few examples of the ever-growing power of the Government. If freedom of the press were not guaranteed, we would have no forum to express our opinions on any subject.

If we don’t use our freedom of speech to verbally fight against the overreaching powers of the federal government, we will see our rights continually limited. Our nation reflects only in part what the founding fathers envisioned for it, because the moral standards which they held are either not believed, or not verbalized publicly.

It may not be too long, before the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights become disregarded in growing folds of a strong central government. If we do not speak out, America may pass into the annals of history one more example of something that once was great.


Journalism Topics

I (Joseph Cook) am the occasional updater of our family blog. Hopefully, I can manage my time and become a frequent updater instead!
Over the next few months, I will be posting several topics regarding in part to Journalism. I am taking a Journalism course with FLVS (Florida Virtual School) and one of the requirements is that I post some material I have written. The first is titled: "What is News?"

Before you read it--can you define "news"? Don't hesitate to comment on the article, as criticism is an essential part of feedback. Thanks for your input!

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines news as: “a report of recent events”. News can be found in various forms, especially in our technology-prone generation. All types of news can generally be classified in three parts: Broadcast, Internet, and Hard Copy.

Broadcast journalism is any form of delivering the news which involves television broadcasting. It usually involves a camera crew reporting on current events, both from a news station or live at an event. Radio is also an example of broadcast journalism, as it can involve news being broadcasted (or transmitted) through airwaves.

Internet news, is news that is disseminated online. The overwhelming majority of internet news is articles in writing. Examples of writing online could be articles posted to news sites, opinion blogs, or twitter news feeds. Though “streaming live” has become a new part of the Internet news field, live news online has not yet become a fixture in the news community.

Hard-Copy news, is news that is disseminated in physical form. Examples of Hard-Copy news would be magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and other forms of news which is in hard form.

In conclusion, “news” is the chronicle of recent events, disseminated to the public through various forms, including broadcast, internet, and hard-copy.