2017 Summer Blog #5 – Hamilton and Washington

So here we go finally something about Washington, who was a probably the most influential person (except maybe Eliza) in Hamilton’s life. Frankly I’m not sure how I got this to be such a short bit of audio seeing as people have literally written books about the relationship between these two.

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2017 Summer Blog #4 – Hamilton’s Financial Genius

Ok, its been way more than one week but we had a baby not long after the last update so I’ve been a little busy. But now here are my recorded thoughts on Hamilton’s financial ideas, the Whiskey Rebellion, and a the beginning of the two party system in the U.S. I apologize in advance for the background noise. Someone is doing work on a house on my street, which seems to involve the use of three very loud generators and a bunch of other unnecessarily loud machinery. I tried to edit the audio to make it better, but…meh…

Once again there are something like a dozen songs in the musical dealing with Hamilton’s financial strategies and plans so I can’t even pick one to emphasize.


I’m going to aim at doing a few more posts about Hamilton before moving on to a different topic. Probably Revolutionary War spies cause I’ve sort of found myself fascinated by that topic recently.



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2017 Summer Blog #3 – Hamilton’s Nemesis, Aaron Burr

Trying something new this week. I recorded a mini-pseudo-podcast. Not sure how good the audio will be. Let me know if it works … or not.



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2017 Summer Blog #2 – Hamilton Intro


So I’ve read about halfway through the book (pg 357) and its just now that I feel confident that I can have an informed opinion on this song. I mean the music is great, that much is obvious. Its super catchy and gets stuck in your head in a I-can’t-remember-all-the-words-but-I’m-going-to-try-to-sing-it-anyway kind of way.

Factually I can’t find any errors in the song although there are some exaggerations. The interesting thing I find is what the song chooses to emphasize. This whole musical is a historical parable of the American Dream and you can hear it in this very first song. Hamilton is portrayed as the quintessential immigrant who works hard, pulls himself up by his own bootstraps, and makes a name for himself. Nothing is ever that simple, and the musical gets into the complexities a bit later on and so will I. However, this intro does give one glimpse into the making of Hamilton’s greatness that was not of his own doing.

The book obviously goes into more detail about this, but I think its instructive that this great and talented man needed a local minister to recognize his talent, care about his down and out situation, open up writing opportunities, and take action to collect funds for his education. Those funds are what sent him to New York and set him on the path of becoming and doing all that he became and did.

As I’ve said many times (and will in the future) ‘Great Man History’ isn’t all its cracked up to be. Nothing is ever that simple.

The preacher’s name was Rev. Hugh Knox, who until this reading I had never heard of.

Side Note: The actual intro to the book starts with Eliza Hamilton, who outlived her husband by many years. She is fascinating, but more about her later.

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2017 Summer Blog #1

I know you all have been out of school for about two weeks now, but we teachers just finished up meetings and such last week. So I’m just now sitting down to think about the assignments I said I’d give myself for this summer.

  1. Read all 735 pages of Hamilton by Ron Chernow  – This is what the musical is based on.
  2. Attend a class in Philadelphia on The Supreme Court’s role in American democracy.
  3. Visit some interesting historic places.


Oddly enough those last two are going to be the hardest. As many of you know my wife and I are having a baby, who is due to arrive nearly any minute. So traveling might be kind of tricky. Nevertheless, I’ll find at least a few interesting things to write about. There’s plenty of interesting stuff just in and around Pittsburgh.

Check back soon for an update on how far I’ve read in Hamilton, and read along if you want. You could also download the audio book from Audible or somewhere and listen to it much faster than I can read.

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The Great?…Blog Post



A while ago we talked about Alexander the Great. We can tell that Alexander really was important because of the obsession everyone in the ancient world had with him. All of Alexander’s generals tried to fill his shoes after his death. Pompey tried to copy Alexander’s conquests (and even his hair style) for Rome. Shakespeare in his play Henry V wrote a line for Henry to say to his troops encouraging them to be ‘…like so many Alexanders…’

What does it mean to be great? What makes a person great?

I want you. To come up with a list of 10 great people and in one word or phrase describe the reason for their greatness. (You get one word/phrase per person)

If you don’t know of any great people I’ll give you a little help to get started. Below is a link to Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2017. Maybe you’ll find some of them to be great feel free to look for people from other sources though.


Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People – 2017

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7/8 Nightly Listening Assignment

9 Things We Learned About Phones From a Teenager 

  • This is from 2015 so it might be a little dated but its a decent starting point to discuss how you all use technology and what has changed in the two years.  (If you don’t want to listen to the audio you can read the text of the article)


After you listen fill out the survey below.



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