February 2008

button_cars_08gt_180x60.jpg The new Maserati GranTurismo S. This is the first execution of a variation on the GranTurismo formula and is the first Maserati to feature our new 4.7 liter V8. Keeping with our philosophy of providing highly capable drivers cars of excellent balance and feel the car is set up in a similar way to the Quattroporte GT S- with Dual Cast Brembo brakes but also benefits greatly as a result of a transaxle 6 Speed.

Styled by Pininfarina the GranTurismo has room for two with some space for adults in the back seat, combined with race-bred performance. The 2008 GranTurismo is priced from $114,650.


By Alan Haskvitzhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

List of author sites


English sites in all areas


Current world leaders


How to write a biography


Nice rubric for biography writing

http://www.amalnet.k12.il/meida/english/rabin/engi0073.htmHistoric Figures from an English perspective
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/The Biographical Dictionaryhttp://www.s9.com/More current biographiesUse with caution as a lot of Hollywood is here.http://www.biography.com/Index of biographies by last name and yearsSuffed full of bios, but bland.http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/BiogIndex.htmlBiography.com: Bio4KidsCheck out the meet the people and biography sections. Lot’s of good stuff.
http://www.biography.com/bio4kids/Personal biography makerLots of hints to stimulate person biography writinghttp://www.tedpack.org/bioguide.htmlAnd personal outline helper


Bellington Public Schools: The Biography MakerExcellent and a must visit.
http://www.bham.wednet.edu/bio/biomaker.htmCreating timelines of a lifehttp://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=26

Biography links

Don’t forget the BioCube link where the students follow a formula to study biographies and write them as well.http://www.readwritethink.org/student_mat/student_material.asp?id=57

Autobiography, Biography, Personal Narrative, and Memoir
Lesson plans and teaching ideas


Picture Book BiographyFor younger students


Pizza biography ideas and more Worth a quick look.http://www.educationworld.com/a_tsl/archives/04-1/lesson016.shtml

How to write a biography for teachers and older students


 Biographical book reportFor younger studentshttp://www.atozteacherstuff.com/pages/4264.shtml

By Alan Haskvitz


Exploring inventions and simple machines provides opportunities for integrated lesson plans that motivate and stimulate creativity in students.  I remind my class everything that does not occur naturally has been created by someone who saw a need and invented something to fill it. You can incorporate economics, science, language arts, math and technology into lessons.

I’ve compiled a few sites to provide students with background about inventions and inventors.  The simple machine sites are numerous, and most cover the fundamentals well.

I have them listed here


Interactive sites
Inventors and inventions
Simple machines

Third grade resources

By Alan Haskvitz


Large list of resources including themes, motivating students to read, free printables, resources for slow learners and much more. http://www.reacheverychild.com/feature/index.html

For third grade lessons and resources click here:


Oxymoron: Hip Volvo C30

By The Car Family

For a list of more websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/index.html

This is one good-looking Swede. But, of course, your mother taught you looks weren’t everything and this cutie has the innards that make it a keeper. There is a turbocharged engine, six speed transmission, and enough safety attributes to squelch your small car phobias with an abundance of active and reactive features.

Pricing is also attractive starting at $23,000, but there are a lot of options that can drive up the your out the door cost.  You can order everything from a $25 leather emergency brake cover to a navigation system for $2100. There is also a custom build package that includes a myriad of other features from folding side mirrors to blind spot warning indicators. If you intend to buy a C30 spend some time doing your research.

Mom’s view: Get out your alliteration dictionary and look under S to describe this Swede. Sweet, swift, sexy, strong, sultry, sunny, safe, satisfying, soul, superb, surprise, svelte; well maybe not svelte. It is enjoyable to drive and doesn’t put you to sleep or toss you around. Call it sporty car versus a sports car.

I had to remind myself that I was driving a Volvo. It had the good seats, familiar turbocharged engine, and felt quite solid, but where was the frustrating myriad of stereo control knobs and the soft steering response of past Volvos? No, this isn’t your grandmother’s Volvo or even your mother’s for that matter. This is a full-fledged fun mobile with a touch, just a touch, of practicality for the young at heart and  just a tad touch of conservatism. In other words, the Volvo C30 is more fun than practical and probably the most youthful Volvo made.

All that glamour does come at a cost. First, the C30 has a glass hatchback that is both unique and limiting. There isn’t any place to hide a purse or your purchases thanks the transparent rear and the small size of the cargo area makes it very limited for hauling much more than a few bags of groceries. On t he other hand it is very easy to open and provides superior rear visibility. It also provides little protection from the headlights of those “look how big I am, mama” individuals who drive around in raised SUVs and pick-ups The first thing I would do with the C30 is tint, darkly tint, the rear glass hatch for practicality sake.


The C30 draws a lot of looks. It has a unique shape from every angle and the attention it draws come from all ages even those who aren’t familiar with its ancestor, the Volvo 1800 ES. The interior has a nice dead pedal and some handy storage areas and the seats are well made and comforting. There is abundant headroom and the steering wheel does telescope making it easier to find a comfortable driving position even when driving a car with a high clutch take-up such as the C30. The waterfall style center console is slim, bright, and attractive, and the cupholders can hold a regular drinks.


You buy a Volvo for safety and the C30 has that with antilock disc brakes, depowered airbags most everywhere, and traction and stability control. In addition you can order Volvo’s Blind Spot Information System which might be a good idea because the side mirrors aren’t that large although visibility to the front and back are excellent.

Dad’s view: We had the six speed manual transmission and once we learned how to find sixth gear it was fine, although the shifting mechanism wasn’t in Mazda territory. The clutch is soft was a fairly high that can result in some lurching at first. Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder that produces 227 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. That is similar to the Subaru WRX’s output, but in a much nicer looking package. The Volvo makes very usable power from just 1500 rpm and so you can lug the engine in sixth down to 20 mph.

The Volvo weighs 3200 pounds, has just 20 cubic feet of cargo space, and has room for four adults, albeit the ones in back aren’t going to want to stay there for long. The gas mileage was about 23 mpg in mixed driving on premium and with the nearly 16 gallon tank made 300 miles about as far as you would want to go without refueling. Since this Volvo has a turbocharged engine I would recommend the manual transmission for those that like to drive. For those that prefer less strenuous commuting can order the $1250 five-speed automatic. If pushed the C30 can arrive at 60 mph in under seven seconds, but it really isn’t as quick as the Subaru or as maneuverable. There is a hint of torque steer, but it is quite controlled and easily corrected. Turbo lag is nearly non-existent with just a touch in the upper gears.

The C30 is easily identifiable as a Volvo, especially from the front, but it is more hip and appeals to a younger buyership. It takes a fair amount of flexibility to get in and out of the Volvo giving its very long doors. You need to find a parking space that provides the clearance to open these long doors. They don’t have a double hinge as the Lexus SC, but they don’t cost nearly as much either.

Obviously, Volvo marketers never intended the C30 to be a canyon cutter and that is obvious in the comfortable settings of the suspension. You can keep up with most sports cars, but you are going to be able to pass them. And, that isn’t what this Volvo is all about anyways. It is has front McPherson strut/rear multilink suspension and with optional 18-inch alloys gives you plenty of road feel, but only an occasional shake over a sharp bump filtering through.

The more I drove the Volvo the more it grew around me. It felt larger as time passed and it sort of begged to be pushed a bit at times. Very unSwedish, but quite compelling, I think the C30 is a bargain for those who can live without the plethora of inviting options just begging to be checked off in typical Scion fashion.

Young college going male’s view: Okay, it has a presence, but it just doesn’t have the look I like. You can order it as a Version 1.0 with 17-inch wheels, a split foldable rear seat, a few leather trim pieces and a so-so CD audio system. If you opt for the Version 2.0 you harvest 18-inch wheels, a body kit, and a more worthy Dynaudio 10-speaker surround-sound audio system with 650 watts and a Dolby Pro-Logic II surround sound a five band graphic equalizers. Very good sound quality. Make sure you always test drive cars with your own CD to insure a good sound check from a known source.

Volvo has a customization charge if you order some items ala Carte so be prepared to debate the price if you don’t want what is sitting on the lot. I would definitely order the bi-xenon headlights, sunroof, park distance control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated seats, and maybe a sunroof. The handling package and navigation system are worth it if you want to go in that direction, pun intended. By the way, Volvo has stated that there are several million configurations for the C30 due to the massive number of options. For example, you can order a bike rack as well as a navigation system and Bluetooth for those who don’t want to miss a trend. Hey, check out my prices for extra quiet custom made open source computers and servers with USA customer service at http://www.eracks.com

Young unemployed woman’s view: I drove a Volvo for years and this simply can be be related to  that high maintenance, squared-off wagon of yesteryear. The C30 is downright adorable with a tucked in rear end, wide set wheels giving it a bulldog stance, and an understated interior with just a hint of modernity.

It has the front of the S40, but the rest is unique to the C30. Nothing else in the Volvo fleet comes close to this in terms of fun and cuteness. The taillights are interesting in shape as they sort of coddle the glass rear hatch. The overall look is that of something far more expensive. The two-bucket seats in the back are actually useful and adults can sit back there. They also fold down so you can take full advantage of the limited cargo room adding about 7 cubic feet of storage to the 13 available with the seats upright.

That being said, the rear hatch is very high and small so leave the big items for the Volvo V70 wagon, one of my favorite haulers. The engine is slow to rev, but it gets there, and gas mileage is always respectable. My friends found this a very desirable car, but one that made them a bit nervous due to its lack of “privacy” with the glass hatch and no real trunk to keep items out of site.


Family conference: If you like the looks and don’t need more interior space you aren’t going to find a better buy if you watch your options. This is a fun playmate that knows when to have fun and when to play it safe. In other words, would you rather have this or a Toyota Camry to enchant your highway adventures?