It's crazy. Almost every day another publisher, TV talk-show host, or radio station is pushing some new diet fad that thousands—if not millions—will feel compelled to buy. A stroll down the aisle in any grocery store reveals enough choices to make your head spin. As my wife and I were shopping the other day, I noticed some age-old diet books, resurrected from their shallow graves and marketed to a younger generation of diet-fad freaks. There were also Beach Diet books, Industrial Rubber Band Workout and Diet packages, Stop Eating Now! diet dinners, a Purple Pants diet, and Eat All You Want AND Lose Weight Diet kits, complete with book, size-0 t-shirt, and encapsulated amoeba (just kidding).

My imagination got the best of me as I began to ponder all the ways the homeschooling community could be bombarded by this type of marketing insanity. Either I ate too much before I went to bed that night or my brain was mesmerized into temporary lockdown, but I had a terrifying nightmare that my wife and I were being assaulted by a barrage of homeschool "diet" programs. One infomercial after another played out until we finally were forced to make our decision.

Minds of Steel: All it takes is three minutes a day for sixteen weeks! The disclaimer reads, "Consult your state and local officials before starting the program. Some parents have experienced hair loss, numbness of limbs, twitching of eyes, and prolonged cerebral paralysis. Do not use if you are currently expecting a baby, are thinking of having another baby, or know anyone who has ever had a baby."

Super Maximized Academic Retention Training (SMART): For only  $19.95 a month for 20 years, you get 14 sets of flash cards, four binders with reproducible color pages (hours of fun), three ridiculous sing-along cassette tapes, one pre-owned Walkman, an authentic oriental kazoo (made in Hong Kong), one disposable laptop computer complete with disposable software, a collectible "You only THINK you're SMART" t-shirt (the color of your choice—as long as it's white), one package of No. 2 lead pencils, and a six-page instruction guide on how to memorize an entire set of encyclopedias (encyclopedias not included).

Powerhouse Homeschooling! Drink 12 ounces and learn all day long. This ultra-infused energy concoction contains exorbitant amounts of caffeine and sugar. Great mahouts in Cuene, Africa, fed this as a supplement to their elephant herds and found they could learn up to 26% faster (the mahouts or the elephants?). Undocumented case studies reveal that three Brazilian coffee-bean harvesters learned to recognize ripe beans with 99% accuracy—that's up one whole percent over previous studies. Certain restrictions apply.

NiftyStart, NiftyStartPlus and NiftyStartAdvanced: Burn off all your homeschooling fears by following our nine-month NiftyStart educational system (government approved and backed). Tell us the age of your children and we will place them into special segregated buildings and classrooms where our specialized instructors will take full responsibility for the indoctrination of your children's sponge-like minds. You are free to go back to work and earn all the extra money you can or stay home and do whatever. Additional fees, activities, counseling, therapy and/or medication may be required for you and/or your children. Although this may sound a lot like public school, it is not. You will be required to spend two to four hours with your child each night, doing "homeschool work" in an intense and often unsettling environment. We repeat, this is not public education. We suggest you purchase the 12-year limited warranty—for whatever it's worth.

Learning Made Easy: This comes with 143 hours of detailed instructions, 16 critical-thinking workbooks, and a 680-page educator's manual. After you receive your initial shipment, you will receive 12 new DVDs every two to three weeks. Each DVD contains 10 hours of additional instruction. You may cancel for a full refund at any time—if you can locate the company address, phone number, or Web site. Automatic payroll deductions are required for a nominal monthly fee.