August 2010

Mercedes Benz E Class Diesel
By The Car Family
for a list of all vehicle websites go to

We have owned a Mercedes diesel for over 35 years and it has proven both reliable and efficient even with 500,000 miles on the engine. We have also tested the new Volkswagen and Audi diesels and found them excellent. However, nothing prepared us for effortless and clean running Bluetec diesel engine that Mercedes is placing in its E Class sedan.

If you can afford the $50,000 plus price tag this is the way to go, but don’t let that price fool you. The resale on these diesels is awesome for many reasons. First, you get an engine that produces nearly 400 pounds of torque that turns mountains into hills while using less fuel. Secondly, you’ll have lower tune-up costs since a diesel does not have an ignition system. Finally, diesels have a well-proven reputation of being good for hundreds of thousands of miles.

If you want to challenge your kidneys, you can go over 700 miles before the sedan’s 21 gallon fuel tank needs replenishing. In other words, you can drive from the Los Angeles to Santa Fe, New Mexico without refueling. But what is most outstanding is the fact that the Bluetec isn’t smelly or noisy or even difficult to start. Once underway it is easy to get to 60 mph in less than seven seconds in a sedan that weights 4000 pounds thanks to its V6 turbo diesel and seven speed transmission.

Mercedes is offering some really trick options such as night vision, a Pre-Safe Brake that automatically stops the car if the forward-looking radar detects that a crash is imminent, and Highbeam assist that automatically switches between high and low beams based on the distance to other vehicles. There is also comfort and sport suspension setting available, a driver knee airbag, front pelvic airbags, and Agility Control. The headlights are terrific.

Mom’s view: Love at first sniff. No odor, no soot, and no waiting. This is the car for me. The ride is tight; the handling far better than any other diesel, and it has a small turning radius, too. Although I felt the steering was too light, it was very easy to park and on the highway had a good on center feel. The many safety features are reassuring and bank vault feel of the doors adds to that feeling. This Benz is easy to park, has an ample trunk, comfortable seats, and plenty of power for those trips to the mountains.

Dad’s view: Outside of a light chattering at idle, the Bluetec is quiet and energetic. Using Mercedes’ rear wheel drive layout the sedan is well balanced thanks to a four-wheel multilink system. Acceleration is linear, with the best performance coming in passing situations. The ride is firm and very comfortable over all road surfaces. The engine sound is well isolated and the E-Class cabin quiet and comfy. Overall, a special vehicle for those that like their comfort, economy, and performance in one package.

Young working woman’s view: Elegant, understated, wood and leather done with taste, and every control feels like sterling silver rather than silver plate. Of course, I constantly got the cruise control and turn signal stalks mixed up, but an owner would quickly learn the difference. The GPS is too complex for easy use, the seats are almost as good as those in a Volvo or Saab, and the lumbar support is perfectly placed for even us taller folk. The test car had heated and ventilated front seats that every woman needs to try.
You feel like you are in control of a fine yacht as the Mercedes E-Class cheerfully and obediently navigates life’s unpredictable waters. The security of the four year/50,000 mile warranty helps. If you feel the need to be different for $6000 more you can sooth your fanny with optional Nappa leather surfaces.
Outside of the Command system, a navigation monitor that sits too low to easily read, the poor choice of colors on the GPS and its very complex operating instructions and its slow response this is a perfect car for the professional woman interested in making a statement about individuality.

Young man’s view: The GPS didn’t work for me. The only good thing is that Mercedes has placed a dandy little LCD screen in the center gauge cluster that is easy to read and well located. The driver’s computer also has a readout that is very clear and provides information on everything, including the satellite station you are on since reverting to the Command system is tedious.
Our test vehicle had the $4000 plus Premium II package that equipped the E-Class with GPS, Sirius Satellite Radio, hands free phone capability, a power rear sunshade, a smart key system, and xenon headlights. I really liked the $500 electronic trunk lid closer. Just press the small button and its lowers or raises itself while you run inside.
The Harman Kardon 12-speaker 420-watt digital surround-sound audio system has a six-disc in-dash changer capable of playing discs and MP3s and the whole system is magnificent. If you feel adventurous try and find the auxiliary input jack. It took me a while before I found it in the glove box. Interesting choice as you can hide you iPod there, too.
Family conference: The perfect sedan for the frugal who also want performance. If you love your cake this is the Mercedes to own.
For a list of all vehicle websites go to

Refreshed CLS:  A Sedan in Coupe Clothing

by The Car Family

Mercedes is looking for another niche to conquer and so it brings the CLS to the fray in the form of a four door sedan with coupe styling scheduled display at  the Paris motor show in October.

The big sedan has a long hood,  frameless side windows and a  sweeping roof line to go along with its  Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG front styling. There are also headlights with  71 LED’s to give a dramatic look to this premium model.

The interior has a wrap-around dashboard sweeping from the driver’s door over the instrument panel support and across to the front passenger door. The central display has also been integrated into the upper part of the instrument panel. Trims include  high-gloss brown burl walnut or high-gloss black ash or  black piano lacquer or carbon fiber trim.

Look for the usual MB engine selections, including the AMG performance version.

For  all vehicle websites go to and click on business.


For Arbor Day

Forest lesson links

2008 Arbor Day Poster Contest

Major Arbor Day site

Kraft sites

State trees

Lesson plan sites

Elementary short stories, poems

Lorax save the tree game

Great resource for types of trees.
Photos and essential information

General lessons for elementary students

The importance of trees to the environment
For older students.

Basic tree coloring book pages

Large link site

Lesson plans including Johnny Appleseed and The Great Kapok Tree

We’re Not Going to Take it Anymore: Teachers Fighting Back

by Alan Haskvitz

Teachers and the Law

All too often teachers have been the victims of being nice. Dedicated to helping others, schooled for years on being role models for society, teachers are held up as the epitome of moderation and understanding. This has resulted in teaching being rated as a highly valued and most honorable profession in public polls. Sadly, this willingness to cooperate has also resulted in teachers taking abuse by politicians, a few parents, and administrators not willing or able to stand-up for their staffs.

But something may be happening. There are a small number of teachers who are using the court system to fight back. And bless them for their actions as it would have been so much easier for them to just get along and not rock the boat. Better yet, it may be telling the public that teachers have rights and aren’t afraid of using them when conditions warrant.

In the News

Most recently, the National Post of Canada reported that a teacher had successful sued parents for casting aspirations on her ability to teach after they sued saying that the teacher had humiliated and intimidated their son in front of the class. The parents told the press that she was unprofessional and she took action. Although the case may be appealed, the teacher won and the $230,000 case. The amount is irrelevant. The point is a another teacher isn’t being pushed around.

Read more:

In Australia a teacher is suing for half a million dollars (AUS) because she says her larynx was damaged by having to yell at rowdy children. Sounds amusing, but wait till you see what the district did and didn’t do before you decide it is frivolous. The district gave her 31 special needs children, including a diabetic child who required insulin injections, two autistic children, a child with cardiac disorders and a number of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. And, she claims, the district didn’t provide the correct number of staff to monitor the large number of students in the class and she states that her training was inadequate. To repeat; 31 special needs students in one class apparently without much support. Anyone not believe her story?

Read more:

The Columbus Dispatch reports that a teacher is suing parents over abuse claims. The teacher was accused by a first-grader of being physically abusive to the boy. The teacher filed a defamation of character suit against the parents citing his beliefs that the parents are continuing to make false, public accusations against him. The District placed the teacher on paid administrative leave while investigating the claim that he grabbed the boy and yelled at him so strongly that he sprayed the boy’s face with saliva. An attorney said that the the investigation found no abuse. Imagine, parents spreading stories causes a law suit. I wonder how common teachers being slandered is?

Read more:

Teachers Protection from Slander

A teacher at Riveroaks Elementary School filed suit against the East Baton Rouge, La., school and its administrators because, she claims, she was asked to teach fourth grade by the school’s principal in order to help raise grades and help students prepare for the state mandated test. What came next is interesting to say the least and probably something that other teachers may have faced. She was apparently told by the administrator that no student was to get a failing grade. The teacher complied, but filed a grievance with the district. She claims that after that she was harassed. The suit mentions loss of reputation, standing in the community, and more. What is equally interesting in the article was a statement by Perry A Zirkel, a professor in education and law at Lehigh University. He is quoted as saying that while courts generally agree that a teacher’s right to grade is protected by the First Amendment, they also find that administrators have the same right and can change grades as they like.“So the teacher wins the right to give a D and the school has the right to change it to an A,” he said. I have never read and heard of that before, but maybe readers would like to comment on that statement. Here is a case with just the opposite outcome:

Read more about the Riveroaks case

A former Georgia kindergarten teacher acquitted of charges she molested three young girls filed a federal lawsuit against her accusers’ families and the sheriff’s department that arrested her because, she claims, that the incident cost her the custody of her daughter, loss of her home, and more. She is asking for $25 million in damages and demands that employees of two Georgia children’s advocacy centers and the sheriff’s department receive better training in how to handle accusations of molestation.

A jury found her not quilty of any charges filed against her after three girls told their parents she had molested them and she says that the sheriff’s department filed charges against without proper evidence of a crime. In other words, the Salem Witch Trials revisited.

Read more:

And here is one from Teachers.Net

Anthony Caprio says he is seeking justice because of injuries he suffered when he came between two
angry Hillhouse High School students. He was a substitute teacher and the fight was between two females students. Interesting, he is asking for damages over those of Workmen’s Compensation and making a case for all teachers who have been injured in such events. I wonder how much training is given teachers on how to break up a fight or if they should?

Read more:

A female, 24 years of age, claimed she was forced to resign because of what was posted on her Facebook profile. She was pictured holding an alcoholic beverages and posting a message about a “Bitch BINGO” event on her Facebook profile. The suit asked the court to order the Board of Education to hold a hearing, as well as back pay and court costs. The principal meet with her without prior notice and asked her about the Facebook entry. The teacher didn’t know her rights, apparently, and resigned. State law requires that a teacher be given written notice of alleged charges before a hearing with the school board and she did not get this, according to the plantiff. An interesting aside to this case was the fact that the photos were taken while she was on vacation in Europe and the Bitch Bingo was the name of a game played at an Atlanta restaurant. Are your Facebook pages any business of a school district? Where does your privacy end?

Read more:

All of these cases have one thing in common and that is the fact that teachers are taking action when they feel that they have been unjustly accused. They aren’t going to take it anymore.