Monday, March 29, 2010

The Gecko That Ran For President


I wrote this story because I thought that the idea of having a Leopard Gecko run for president would be funny. Plus, I have a Leopard Gecko, and his name is Leperdy. He is cute! Leperdy is a well-behaved pet and not too much work. All I really need to do for him is feed him crickets and check his lamp to make sure it’s on because he needs heat.

While writing this story, I learned about presidential elections. I found out that it’s not very easy for people to run for president. Can you imagine how difficult it would be for a gecko to run for president?

The Gecko That Ran For President

“Dad, will you tell me why there is a Leopard Gecko on that dollar bill?” asked the little girl….


“I have never seen winds this big,” said Freddy, as they scorched the trail that led home. Freddy heard the sound of wings flapping in the air.

“What was that?” asked Leperdy. Leperdy and Freddy were two of the original, but common, Leopard Geckos with a yellow body and black spots. The two geckos were running home after a hard day of collecting food and crickets in the mountains.

“Look, it’s a bald eagle and it looks hungry!” said Freddy.

But he was too late. The bird opened its talons and grabbed Leperdy! For 7 days and 7 nights, the bird carried him high in the air until he found himself being dropped into the window of the White House. Then, he blacked out.

Leperdy awoke in a large room covered with a bunch of lab equipment. The room was shaped like a dome and had a sky roof over the whole ceiling. There were a few people who looked like scientists walking around with clipboards in their hands. Even with all those people and machines, the large room was kind of quiet.

What, huh, where am I? Everything is fuzzy. There are voices all around me. Are they my friends? Wait, I’m thinking in English. Wait, I thought there was only one human language. One of the shapes is human. They’re all human. One of them, a tall man with a smile on his face, wearing a lab coat, is coming toward me. He looks kind of happy.

“Hello, my name is Professor Buttbelow. I’m glad to see that you survived the transformation into smartness. While you were unconscious, we used a new machine on you. We thought that it was not fair to have America just be run by human kind, so we developed a machine that magnifies gecko brain waves and gives them superior intelligence. I will explain more on the way to the White House.”

“Wait, I never….,“ sputtered Leperdy.

The professor cut him off, and offered Leperdy one cricket if he’d run for President of the United States of America. Leperdy agreed ever so joyously. Then the professor picked Leperdy up, put him on his shoulder, and went outside. They then got into a limousine that carried them to the White House.

Professor Buttbelow said, “As I was saying earlier, we gave you superior knowledge to gecko kind and most people. You’re a genius! We did this because we were sick and tired of having people run the land and take over just because they’re a little smarter than the animals. But, in some ways, humans are no smarter than monkeys, and that’s insulting the monkeys. Humans are destroying beautiful landscapes with corporate buildings. And they are continuously whacking the atmosphere with a sledge hammer.”

“We also gave you some of the memories of past presidents so that’s why driving around in this limousine doesn’t seem new to you.”

After a not too long drive through Washington, D.C., Leperdy and the professor arrived at the White House gates. The professor showed the security guards a special permission letter from the current president, and they were let through immediately.

After getting dropped off by the limousine, they then walked in through the main doors of the White House.

“Right through there is the sign up room where they will check your eligibility to run for president. If you pass the test, you can sign up to run for president. Afterwards, Bob, a grade A student and a very nice kid, will be your personal guide. Bob will take you to your room when you are ready. Ok, any questions?” asked the professor.

“Ok, no questions,” said Leperdy. He then walked through the door to find an old-fashioned room lined with paintings of past presidents. The presidents seemed to be grinning at Leperdy.

At the end of the room was an antique mahogany desk. A man, dressed in a black suit with a blue tie that had pink flamingos dancing a tango, sat slumped behind the shiny, cleared desk. The man had a moderately chubby face, with cheeks that looked as if he had just stuffed his mouth with cupcakes. On his face, Leperdy saw a gloomy expression.

“Hello, my name is Jack, Jack Black,” the man sighed.

“Hello, my name is Leperdy, and I’m here to run for President of the United States.”

“Welcome! Will you take a seat on the wood chair in front of the desk? Can you reach the chair?”

“Sure, no problem,” said Leperdy as he hopped onto the chair. “Ok, what do I have to do to run for president?” asked Leperdy.

“First, read this contract.”

The contract was just one white piece of paper with no holes. It had a lot of words written in small print, but Leperdy read it speedily. “Ok. Now what?”

“Now, I interrogate you, I mean, I ask you a few questions based on the U.S. Constitution to make sure that you qualify to be President of the United States of America. Are you at least thirty-five years old?”

“Yes, I am exactly thirty-five years old, but I am a very healthy specimen. I’m going to be around for a long time, and you will never be able to get rid of me.”

“Darn!,” said Mr. Black as he hid a pretend hand pistol that he had aimed at Leperdy. “Were you born in the United States of America?

“Yes, I was born in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.”

“Have you lived in the United States for at least fourteen years?”

“Yes, I have lived in the Rocky Mountains all my life.”

“Ok,” said Mr. Black, “You are now running for president!”

Bam bam, they heard a loud knock at the large, double doors. “That must be Bob,” said Jack Black. “He shows people to their rooms. Come in.”

Then, the door creaked open to reveal a boy with messy orange hair. He looked at Leperdy and said, “Hello, you look different from most of the people around here, but I don’t know how. Hmmmmm. Mr. Black, which room should I take him to?”

“The room three doors down the hall will suffice.”

“Follow me,” said Bob as he led Leperdy down the hallway. “Mister Leperdy, this will be your room.”

In the room, there was a small water bed with blue velvet sheets. The walls were painted sky blue with a bunch of black and white butterflies hand-drawn on the ceilings and walls. There was also a medium-sized window overlooking the city. It was a comfortable room for a Leopard Gecko.

“Well, better get some rest,” said Leperdy to himself. He settled on the bed under a warm blanket and went to sleep.


“Wake up, wake up!” yelled a voice in distress. Leperdy jumped up as if by instinct. Then, he noticed that it was just his alarm clock, waking him up for the day.

Leperdy got out of bed and went to the door. The minute he opened it, hands scooped him up and put him on their shoulder. “Off, to the waiting room!” yelled Bob.

“Where are we going?” asked Leperdy.

“We are going to the Interview Room where a reporter is interviewing the presidential candidates,” said Bob.

“But, I haven’t been nominated by one of the political parties yet!” exclaimed Leperdy.

Bob said, “Don’t worry; we already created the Animal Party. Since there are no other animals running for office, they already agreed to nominate you. They will be announcing it formally later at the Nominating Party.” While he was talking, the boy ran at the speed of light, zooming down the hall into a room with two other people in it.

Looking around the room, Leperdy saw blue walls and a red curtain covering one end of the room. In the room, was a sofa with two men sitting up straight, waiting quietly. Both wore navy suits and red ties. One of them had an elephant on his tie, the other a donkey. Leperdy thought to himself, I should have worn a tie with a Leopard Gecko, but what the heck, I can go naked, and that’s my style.

“Hello, Mr. Leperdy,” said one of them. “We too are running for president. You look a little short. Are you alright?”

“Yes, would you like a cupcake?” asked the other one.

“No, thank you, the only thing that I can eat is bugs,” said Leperdy.

“Oh,” said the first man, “My name is George W. Bush. My father used to be the president so I should have a good shot at the elections.

“And I’m Al Gore. I’m already the Vice President of the United States so I should have a good shot too,” said the other man.

“Mr. Bush, you’re on!” said a voice behind a curtain.

“Ok,” Mr. Bush yelled back. He then went and disappeared behind the curtain. Leperdy and Vice President Gore sat quietly. Mr. Bush came back out fifteen minutes later, and told Mr. Gore to go behind the curtain. When Mr. Gore came back, he told Leperdy to go behind the curtain too.

Leperdy went thru the curtain to find a room. The large room contained a tiny stage, just big enough for one person. On that stage was a small booth with a microphone and next to the stage was a bunch of camera equipment directed at the booth. The room also contained two people. One of them had a big movie recorder on a tall, black stand. The other person was a skinny, well-dressed young woman with a microphone in her hand.

She said, “Hello, my name is Bluebert Buxton. I’m from CNN News, and I will be interviewing you today. Would you please sit in that booth?”

“Ok, but do I get free crickets?”

“Um, no, I …., I don’t think so.”

The man with the movie recorder shouted, “We’re live in 5 4 3 2 1 Action!”

“Hello, I’m Bluebert Buxton from CNN News. We’re here live at the White House in our nation’s capital interviewing the presidential candidates. This is Leperdy who is running for President of the United States with the newly created Animal Party. Hello, Leperdy, would you like to tell us where you’re from?”

“Is this a trick question?” asked Leperdy.

“No! Now would you please stick to the script?”

“I have a script?” asked Leperdy.



“In your brain!” shouted Bluebert Buxton.

The camera man turned away his camera, crunched a bag of cheese doodles, and announced “Technical difficulties.” The reporter turned away and for some reason it started it started raining from her eyes.

“Are you ok?” asked Leperdy.

“No, my show is known to have cooperative people, but you are not it. How can you possibly hope to get elected president if you don’t have good publicity?”

“I’m sorry. I apologize for ruining your show, but it was a sincere accident. I didn’t understand that it was not a trick question.”

Leperdy left the room feeling sure that he’d make it up to her, but being a gecko he quickly forgot.


Later, that night, he went to a big formal dinner with George W. Bush and Al Gore in a large dining room in the White House. There was one big long table, set with fancy silverware and large platters of food like rice and potato salad and ice cream and a few lollipops. Sitting around the table were a bunch of people who looked moderately important, but Leperdy didn’t care enough to get acquainted. He sat down next to the other presidential candidates.

“The food looks great! Too bad I can’t eat it,” said Leperdy.

“It is very good,” said Mr. Bush. Boing went a sound. Boing, it sounded again. Then a cricket jumped onto the potato salad. Leperdy‘s hunting instincts took over. He sprang up on his feet and shot out his tongue. It hit the potato salad, but missed the cricket that jumped up and landed on Mr. Bush. Leperdy shot out his tongue, but instead of catching the cricket, his tongue got smashed all over Mr. Bush’s face.

Everyone was flabbergasted. Leperdy saw looks of surprise and horror on all the guests’ faces, and he felt ashamed.

After that, Leperdy just went to his room for the night. The halls seemed dark, empty, and quiet.


Just then, as he walked down the hallway, feeling lonely and hungry, a chameleon jumped in through the window with a pigeon flying in behind her. The chameleon looked scared, her brown eyes turned to Leperdy in fear, begging him to help her.

Leperdy heroically sprang into action, grabbed the pigeon’s tail, and pushed him into a coat rack. The pigeon stopped moving, stunned for a moment. Then, he got up and flew back out the window.

At that moment, Bob came in from around the corner. “I was going to tell you that you needed a First Lady, but you obviously already found one. I’ll take her to the sign up area immediately.”


The next morning, Leperdy woke up on an airplane. Next to him was Bob, the boy who had shown him to his room. “Where am I?” said Leperdy.

“Oh, hi Leperdy, we’re on an airplane going to New York City. I’ll tell you why later. Try to lay low. We don’t want you to get noticed.”

“Um, ok.”

Just then a cart careened by as a stewardess came by. “Would you like a cookie? We’re giving them away since they got infested with bugs,” she said.

“Would I ever,” said Leperdy.

“I don’t know, would you?” asked the girl again.

“Of course,” yelled Leperdy.

The girl handed Leperdy a bunch of bugs that got stuck together by a few chocolate chips. Leperdy ate the whole thing in one bite!

A voice came over the loudspeaker, “We will be landing shortly. Please buckle up.” Ten minutes later, they were getting out of the plane.

“We can go ahead. Our luggage is being dealt with by the limousine driver,” said Bob.


Leperdy and Bob got into the waiting limousine. Bob said that they were going to meet their nominating party, the representatives from the Animal Party who had already agreed to back Leperdy for president. About an hour later, the cab stopped in front of a big building.

Even though Leperdy was from the Rocky Mountains, and accustomed to living in forested areas, he didn’t mind the big buildings of the city because they reminded him of the big boulders in the mountains.

“This is the Crazy People Inn Hotel where we are staying for the night,” said Bob. “Tomorrow, we’re going to spend the whole day at the political convention where you will make a speech and be formally nominated as the presidential candidate from the Animal Party.”

Bob then put Leperdy on his shoulder and took him in the building. Bob went up to a counter where he asked a man where his room was. The man said that it was on the fifth floor, Room 187. Bob then took Leperdy into an elevator and pressed the button. Suddenly, they were flying up and then they stopped. The door opened and they walked out. They then went into another room. In that room, there were a bunch of people.

Leperdy asked about them, wondering who they were.

Bob told him that they were his nominating party. “These people already agreed to nominate you for president because they feel the same way that you do about having humans controlling and destroying the earth.”

Bob and Leperdy went in the room and one of the men walked up to him. The man was super skinny, really tall, carried around a clipboard, and had an expression on his face as if he was on another planet.

“Hello, my name is Mr. Porkchop, and I am planning to run for office with you. The Animal Party has asked me to be your Vice President because I am exceedingly good at political stuff.”

“Thank you,” said Leperdy. “I am very glad that you will be running for Vice President with me, and I hope that we can work together to make the country a better place for humans and animals.”

“But it is now time for us to go to sleep,” said Mr. Porkshop. “Good night.”

Mr. Porkchop left the room, and went out to the elevator. Bob took Leperdy through to a door to another room where there were a few beds. Bob placed Leperdy on one of the beds, and left to change in the bathroom. Leperdy fell asleep immediately.


Leperdy awoke to find Bob patting him on the back.

“Wake up, wake up,” Bob said, “It’s time to go to the convention.”

“OK,” said Leperdy, “I’m getting up.”

Bob then handed Leperdy a bowl of Cricket Flakes, the cereal of fun. Leperdy ate with tons of joy. When he was done, Bob lifted Leperdy up onto his shoulder and left the room. Bob told Leperdy that everyone already left to go to the Convention.

After a speedy but long walk on city sidewalks, they finally arrived at the political convention. Leperdy saw a bunch of tents and some clowns selling animal balloons. Leperdy asked Bob to buy him a helium balloon. When he got it, Leperdy strapped the string of the balloon around his chest so that he could float.

Leperdy then left Bob to have some fun. Half an hour later of flying around, Leperdy found a stage where he saw some of the politicians that he had met the previous night making speeches. He also saw Michael Jackson and other celebrities making speeches about how great an idea they thought the Animal Party was.

Just then, Leperdy’s balloon popped, and he started falling down. Luckily, he landed on Bob’s shoulder.

“There you are,” said Bob. “We’ve been looking all over for you. It’s time for you to make your speech.”

Before Leperdy could say anything, Bob brought him over to the stage and placed him in front of the microphone. Leperdy suddenly got stage fright and didn’t know what to say, and blacked out.

A few minutes later, he woke up on Bob’s shoulder again.

“You were great!” said Bob. “You figured out the perfect way to save the planet, stop war, lower taxes, and you got the whole audience involved too. It’s like you spent all your life working on this speech.”

Leperdy didn’t know what to say. So, he just stuck out his tongue and caught a passing fly.


Now that Leperdy had a political platform, and a Vice President and First Lady, he had to share his message with the American people. Not everyone had heard his speech at the Animal Party Convention.

Fortunately, it had been videotaped. But still, Leperdy had to arrange for a lot of publicity, including an advertising campaign.

Knock, knock. A loud knock on the door announced that someone wanted to come in. Leperdy said that the door was open, and that whoever it was could come in.

The door opened to reveal a girl with nerd glasses, double pony-tail, blonde hair, who was tall and skinny. She carried a clip board in her hands. Who doesn’t?

“Hello, I’m Casey, your advertisement director. You need to advertise so that you can get more publicity for your presidential campaign. So, I personally came up with a few ideas of my own to help you advertise.”

“Those were my ideas, you thief!” shouted a voice from far outside.

Casey tried to cover it up while at the same time pretending that nothing happened. “Anyway,” she said. “Here are my ideas.”

The girl handed Leperdy a clipboard that showed a box of cereal that said “Leopard O’s”

“Do you like my ideas?” asked Casey.

“Sure,” said Leperdy half-heartedly.

“Great,” said Casey, “I’m going to go and put it on the market immediately.” The girl then hopped off.


For the next several months, Leperdy went around the country campaigning. Sometimes he had the First Lady or the Vice President with him, but sometimes he didn’t. But, Bob was always there with him.

Toward the end of the presidential campaign, he had to attend the great debate between him, George W. Bush, and Al Gore. This time, Bob, the First Lady, and the Vice President would be watching, but they couldn’t go on the stage with him.

The three presidential candidates went up on stage, and spread out to each stand at their own podium. And, to Leperdy’s surprise, the next person to walk up to the stage was the host of the debate, Bluebert Buxton.

“We will now be asking questions,” said Bluebert Buxton. “Let’s start with Leperdy.” She turned to Leperdy, with an evil and malevolent expression on her face.

“Now, Leperdy, what exactly is your definition of a trick question, and how exactly did it feel when you ruined my show and life?”

Leperdy was speechless. He couldn’t believe that Bluebert Buxton still remembered the interview, and held a grudge for all these months.

“Well, I, uh,” said Leperdy. And then, Leperdy blacked out. When he woke up, he was still on stage, and the crowd was chanting his name.


It seemed that everyone on the planet loved him. But when he looked over to where Bluebert Buxton stood, he saw that she was being restrained by two really big bodyguards and she was kicking and screaming to try to get to Leperdy.

Leperdy couldn’t believe it. The Great Debate was finally over. When he tried to leave the stage, there were people yelling, “We love you!” And they were trying to get some of his skin sheddings, like rock star fans.

Leperdy walked away, with the help of two burly bodyguards, and a happy smile on his face.


Time passes, and now we find our favorite Leopard Gecko back in his room at the White House. Leperdy got up with a smile on his face, and a spring in his step. He got up and opened the door, expecting to be whisked away and taken to his limousine. But, nothing happened.

Then, he noticed a letter sitting in front of his door. Leperdy opened it up. The letter said that there was some kind of mix-up in Florida with the election ballot counts, and that he would have to send a lawyer there immediately. Leperdy immediately rushed to the White House lobby to a phone and a telephone book. He opened the book to the “L” section, when a bell went off and three men came in through the White House doors. They all had canes and Willy Wonka hats, and they started singing and tap dancing.

Here is their song:

Tra la la, we’re the singing, tap dancing lawyers. La La La. When you’re sitting, and you need a political back up, who are you going to call? You should call, the singing, tap dancing political lawyers. La la la la LA!

“Speak no more,” said the lawyers. “We know where you want us to go. “

The first lawyer said, “Off…”

The second lawyer said, “To…”

And the third lawyer said, “FLORIDA!”

Then, they ran off.

Leperdy was so surprised and speechless, that he walked right back up to bed.


Five weeks later, the lawyers came back, waking Leperdy right out of bed, and signing again.

“We have won, yesirree, yippedoodee.” And then, they ran off.

Leperdy got up out of bed, ate a bowl of Cricket Flakes, opened the door, and immediately was picked up by Bob, and carried off to a limousine.

“Things are looking up for you,” said Bob. “You won the popular election, the Florida mix-up was straightened out in your favor, and now you have the electoral votes as well. Now they are going to announce you the winner of the presidential election, but you won’t have to make a speech until next month at the Inauguration.”


“Well, what happened next,” asked the little girl? Her Daddy answered, “Well, why don’t you go and ask Grandpa Leperdy to find out.”

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Medieval Castles


What is a castle?

A castle is a fortified home where a king or nobleman lived with his family and his army of soldiers, and it usually had a whole community. The medieval castles were mostly built from 1000 AD – 1500 AD.

Why were castles built?

During the medieval time there was no central authority so the nobles built castles as a command center for them to use to control their territory.

Castle Community

There were a lot of people in the castle community. Here is a list of people who may have lived in the castle.

· The noblemen and their families lived inside a round tower in the castle called a keep.

· Knights – men who fight for the lord.

· Squires – knight’s helpers.

· Men at Arms – foot soldiers.

· Skilled workers

· Servants

· Scullions - kitchen helpers.

· Servers

· Cooks

· Garrison- the castle guards.

Designing a Castle

Before building a castle, you need to choose a good location and create a plan.

A good location for a castle is one with natural defenses like rivers and boulders that help when trying to survive attacks.

A castle plan should include super big food rooms and wells to help survive sieges. It should also include defense designs.

Building a Castle

To build a castle, you need workers such as: quarrymen, carpenters, blacksmiths, and diggers. The carpenters start with making a wooden fence around the castle site. This fence is called a palisade. The diggers then dig a well in the most protected interior of the castle. Next, the diggers dig a moat around the exterior of the castle. During all this, the quarrymen are digging up sand stone. While all this happens people are farming the land, and paying a tax to the castle lord. That tax money is used to pay to build the castle. Workers go on to build the walls and gate house. Later, when the exterior protection is complete, they finish the interior living spaces.

Sieges and Warfare

Sometimes when people wanted to take over more territory they would attack the current owner’s base of command which in medieval times was usually a castle. They would surround a castle in a way that made it impossible for the people in the castle to get new supplies or help. This was called a siege.

A siege could go on for a long period of time as the attackers tried to either destroy the inhabitant’s walls or starve them out.

Siege attacks might include:

· Digging a tunnel under the castle walls, temporarily putting up supports, and then burning the supports to make the castle walls fall.

· Building movable towers that could be used to get over the walls.

· Using catapults to throw heavy stones, burning material, and other dangerous items over the wall.

Defense Designs

When castles were under siege, the people did not just sit there. They used different weapons and strategies to try to get the attackers to leave. In addition to stone walls, here are a few other castle defense mechanisms:

clip_image001Crenellations- holes for archers to shoot from.

clip_image002Machicolations-a hole in front of the gate to pour bad stuff on people like hot oil.

Moat – a ditch filled with water that surrounds the castle.

clip_image003Portcullis - iron grills that cover the door.

Books about Castles:

Castle (0046442329200): David Macaulay: Books

ISBN: 0395329205
ISBN-13: 9780395329207

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Celts

celts The Celts were a bunch of tribes that lived from 500 B.C. to 43 A.D. in Europe. Although they were ruled by different kings, they shared a similar way of life.

For example they all lived in round houses made out of straw. Most of the cooking was done in the house. These round houses are found in villages all over Europe.

In the Celt villages, there were druids. The druids were holy men who were believed to have to have special abilities like being able to turn things into things! The Celt religion is called Druidism. Druidism says that there are spirits that live in lakes and trees. The Celts were also very superstitious, they believed that the number 9 was magic, and the number 3 was evil.

The Celt tribes shared similar beliefs because story teller’s called bards traveled between them sharing epic stories like the one called Beowulf. Bards had grueling training. For example, they had to lie down with a rock on their stomach and a sack on their head. They also had to recite stories from memory 100 times until they fainted, they memorize it, or they got dragged off to be sacrificed by the Druids. These bards traveled all over Europe sharing stories.

So the Celts were pretty connected for being so spread out!