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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"The Gift"

My daughter's Select Choir Group singing "The Gift" on Lite Rock 96.9 this morning. I cannot believe how this all worked out.  I was sick this morning and stayed home from work and then my daughter texted me that she was on the radio and to turn it on.  I heard her say something about GOING to a radio station, I did not hear anything about her SINGING on the radio with her choir.  How cool! I am so glad I did not miss it.  Divine intervention, Dr. Ackerman called it. So this is what happens when dad signs a permission slip I have never even seen.  Now I am so full of holiday spirit I may actually write out a Christmas card or two, after I take more aspirin and get some rest.

"My Favorite Things" and "Sleigh Ride"

My daughter's Select Choir Group performing live this morning on Lite Rock 96.9.

"Sleigh Ride"

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Chasing the Night

Chasing the NightChasing the Night by Iris Johansen

My rating: 3 1/2 of 5 stars

I really liked the plot, it was interesting and contained many of the CSI type elements I look for. However, there are many characters who were only half developed. I do not know if they are in her other novels, SO, I may revise this review as I read more from Johansen. I just found out that this is a the latest in a series, though I cannot tell from the book where in the timeline it falls. SERIOUS ERROR! I can already tell that Johansen favors a strong heroine or in this case, a few strong heroines. Each character had a rich, serious back story that we only get glimpses of, so I wanted more, More, MORE. There were possible conflicts that never quite reached the boilover point and the dialogue doesn't always reflect the inner struggles of the characters. I would favor a more human vulnerability from time to time over the struggle to always be strong and driven. Great cliffhanger ending that makes me think I missed some MAJOR character development in other works. I did read Silent Thunder by this author and it was unconnected to this story. I will definitely read more. It is clear that each character from this book could have their own spin-off series, so now I have to go and research who is in which book in which order. It would have been nice if this was included IN the book as a guide.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

42 of 3123...

I finally got around to de-authorizing my computers in tunes, and reauthorizing two of them. I had only one computer left and was sure I had not de-authorized two machines I used in two different schools a while back.  I think it is  a shame we can only do this once a year, I mean, what does it cost Apple anyway?  the 42 of 3123 represents the fact that I finally turned on home sharing between my two macbooks.  Right now 3123 songs are making their way through space to live on my other laptop.  It is a beautiful thing. I will update later and tell you how long it took.  Here is a link telling you how to use home sharing in itunes.  Now I have to figure out how to share the  playlists and  the settings for each ipod and nano.

Blood Vines

Blood VinesBlood Vines by Erica Spindler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I rate books by my ability to put them down.  If I can, they don't reach the top of my pile.  While I COULD put Spindler's Blood Vines down, I was also happy to pick it back up again.  It was worth the overdue fine at the library.  I thought I would get more wine country, but it was a book about personal relationships and family ties set against the backdrop of California Wine Country.  Fast paced action, a bit of steaminess, and enough murder and mystery to keep the reader engaged, Blood Vines will while away the hours and challenge your mind to find out who is behind all the blood in the wine caves.

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Private Life

Private LifePrivate Life by Jane Smiley
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I did not care much for this book except for the historical relevance to Einstein, Word War II, and the San Francisco Earthquake/fire.  Long suffering woman married to a man who lives on his own level.  Not enough hope to keep me going. I did finish it, but it became a chore.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Weekly Floride Treatments-Weird to me

The school nurse came by the classroom this morning  and left these little cups filled with green liquid.  "Are they mouthwash," I asked the other teacher?
Chuckling, she replied, "No honey, they are fluoride treatments."
I had heard of these mythical treatments but have never seen them before, outside of that stuff the dentist puts on our teeth twice a year. That is what living in the country is all about, well water you can't drink because of high sodium content and Fluoride treatments.
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All she does is smile?

During a Skype session with my evil twin Sheila the students clustered around and wanted to extend their greetings.  They could see my face and Sheila's as we talked to each other.  Then, we lost connection. When we reestablished it, Sheila did not automatically turn her video; on  her avatar was showing instead.  One of the students stopped by my desk and watched for a few minutes and then scoffed, "All she does is smile?"  I could not stop laughing.
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"In the midst of my preparations for hari-kari"

I did not SEE the calendar mention about class not being held this week, and I was waiting for everyone to show up so I could finally get my tooltime out of the way. To my dismay, no one appeared. After about 10 minutes,  I  looked at the calendar again and realized I was looking at the wrong week and I was two weeks off. "In the midst of my preparations for hari-kari" I decided to just go ahead and have my tooltime! I It has literally been hanging over my head for weeks and I archived it for your viewing pleasure. I am sorry you all missed it, but I can be persuaded to redo it live, for a nominal fee.
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Technology Invasion!

I was teaching a bunch of teachers how to use blogging with their students and a teacher mentioned the invasion of technology. WHAT A MIND BLOWER!   I am an integrationist, not an invader, but ultimately,  this is how the teachers view these changes to their curriculum.    I know where they are coming from, no one likes to be told to do something that is not of their own choosing and teachers have had to deal with NCLB and many more mandates for years.  They are fed up.  I have to walk on eggs sometimes because they are so adamantly opposed to technology.  Don't get me wrong, they act like they are interested, they do their best to "fit it in,"  but I can hear them the second my back is turned, complaining to each other about what they have to do now.   Technology upsets their pacing charts, it gets in the way of content during the learning curve process.  They make little digs about technology and I have to really try not to get upset and take it personally.  But I am the face of what they are hating and that is difficult.
I have to remind myself that there are things I do
not like to do either.  After all, I hate math, I really really hate it, and I try to act excited about it when I have to teach it, but lets face it, we all have different interests, and that is what makes us interesting to other people.  I respect the teachers I work with and pray that I keep understanding their pain as they try to change the way they teach to fit the interests of the generation we are teaching.  It IS hard, technology integration is unlike any other educational reform that has ever taken place.  It is constantly changing and shifting and is sometimes like working on quicksand.
You have to get it done and fast because the internet could go down, the moviemaker could freeze up again, the edublog logins will fail due to timing out.  It is stressful and uncomfortable for anyone who doesn't love and embrace technology.   For all the teachers forced to integrate technology, I feel for you. My hope is to be less of an invader and more of an organic presence over the year.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

What really happened to the Roanoke Colony

 This was a project that my son and his 7th grade friends worked on for a weekend.  They had to explain the disappearance of the Roanoke colony. They also had to explain the word Croatan carved into a post. They clearly had lots of fun.  It looked way better on the big screen with a disk. but you know how much resolution is lost when uploading to youtube.  Welcome any suggestions about boosting resolution.  Someone gave me handbreak, I have to figure out how to use it.
This is not a repeat post but rather an update as to my progress burning the project. Again, I do not have a superdrive but I WAS able to save as a disk image and burn that with an external drive. WOW it works, I read it in the forums as I mentioned in the earlier post, but I implemented it last night and burned copies for all my son's friends who took part. It would have been better if the kids had seen what I did for them so that they could do it, but they all have piano and babysitting and all those other things going on.
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Monday, November 8, 2010

Identity Crisis

Sometimes our plans do not always pan out exactly as we wish.  This mixed media piece by a local artist became an amalgam of an idea and the result of experimental painting and oil pastel techniques.  It was meant to be one thing for his class and grew into another.  Abstract painting was not as he expected it to be.  His description of his painting process and the process of this particular piece was quite interesting.  For more information on this artist, contact me.  I would appreciate if you could comment on what you thought this painting represented.  I will be happy to forward your feedback to the artist. I will not tell you what it was meant to be, I will await your comments.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Can You See Me Now?

One of my friends, who shall remain nameless, thinks that he is invisible when wearing his "Digital Camouflage jacket." Since I am a techie, I should not be able to see him. What do you think?  I think I can still see him, but I do need glasses you know.

Not There Anymore

I am not a happy person all the time, I get depressed or tired and I tend to take it out on the people around me who love me. I know I can get away with it. But if I was to stay that way for an extended period of time, it would wear on them and they would stop caring about me and my feelings. It would affect them too.

 I can put up with a lot, but I am not impervious to depressed behavior either. People who are miserable do affect the ones they love. Because they are depressed and want to bury themselves away from the world, they are free to wallow in their misery. They are perhaps not aware of the ones they leave behind. What about the people who enjoyed talking with you and hanging out? Are they not important?
 Losing someone to depression is a loss, it is like a death, because they are just not there anymore. They have left us behind and can't get beyond their own misery. Think about it, when someone you love dies and you can't just pick up the phone and call them, it hurts. You get that little shock all over again every time it happens. When someone you love is depressed and refuses to answer the phone, it is not much different. You still have that instinct to call only you also know that you are not stronger than the depression. Not strong enough to break through that veil at all. Either way, it is sad being the one left behind.
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Convention 2010

Another year passes and we crashed as many hospitality events as we could.  In an effort to not lose my mind over being charged twenty bucks a day for valet parking at the Sheraton at the Convention Center, I made sure they could not charge me for anything else if I could help it.  I will not reveal my secrets, because I plan on using them in the coming years.  I love getting together with my friends once a year and staying over, even though we all live close enough to drive home each night.  The chance to catch up and share our lives is worth the few hundred bucks we spend for our outing. Shopping was out this year as I did not feel like braving the rain to get to the outlets. Consequently, my son STILL does not have his new winter coat.  I will have to go out this week and get one. I also have to return a sweater. I was busy in class HOTEL WIMBA and ordered in some delicious room service from the Tun Tavern on my first night in AC.  Never did get around to returning that sweater but I was relieved that my class went well.  I was worried that my connection wouldn't be good enough to participate in the online session. As soon as I was done, I met my friends for the dirtiest martini ever and we spent the rest of the night laughing our butts off and sharing our latest news. My friends may live far away, but it only took a hug to get back into the swing of things and it was like we never parted.


Working hard on my PLN, I met a lot of very grr people at the NJEA convention this past week and I am connecting to them using Grouply, Ning, Thinkfinity Community, Linkedin and Delicious.  I have learned how to USE my network on Delicious instead of just treating it as a repository for my bookmarks. Adding my Delicious feed to my blog was easy but it is disappointing that I only get the last five bookmarks I added on this Blogger site.  I will start to post the feeds of the people in my network and this will give me a bit more of what I really want. I have taken charge of connecting to people outside of my personal Facebook and have started honing my Twitter friends into categories that match the different interests in my life.  While this takes lots of time, I am sure it will be rewarding and will help me stay on top of my game in my field of study.  My fingers hurt. Now I have to have a professional look over what I have done and get back to me with more direction. I have to wait for people to accept my friend requests on the various social platforms as well.
We have had lots of problems with the grouply, apparently only the group creator can send invites to our group, in the Ning platform we could all invite people into the group.  It could be an administrator setting that is off, but whatever the reason, it is not acting as user friendly.  I have 119 members to connect to in this group, but the never share anything.  I guess if it is a mandatory thing instead of a passion, you just don't get participation.
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My blog is getting some major updating, I have been tagging appropriately, so that I can split off some of my posts to specific blogs if I need to do so in future. Zemanta in Firefox has been helpful as it suggests tags I do not think about. You all know I just throw everything in here and sort later, so I am in the sorting process. I have added feeds of some of the blogs I follow in my personal life and in class on this site as well.

This Weekend's Work

I am very tired. The toughest part was letting the kids take total charge of their project.  I just manned the cameras and assisted with editing for like 15 hours.
Problems we encountered:

  1. Objects in park that did hindered our commitment to historical accuracy (such as cars, trash cans, and someone blasting "Eye of the Tiger").
  2. Wardrobe malfunctions and misinformation.
  3. The noise of the fire station horns every half hour, along with the church bells.
  4. One weird looking duck that kept distracting the actors.
  5. A table of donuts and coffee that distracted the crew AND actors.
  6. Not enough baby wipes to get off all that face paint.
  7. Taping over the opening sequence- having to copy another scene and reversing it in imovie.
  8. Not being able to match the sepia tone in the movie clips to the picture clips and having to use all black/white instead.
  9. Not being able to edit out the rope tied to the canoe, the canoe club, the outbuildings, the trash cans, the cars, or the barbeque pits in video clips. (We could only do this in still shots).
  10. Not having a super drive on my macbook to burn the DVD movie for best resolution.
  11. Not being able to get George's Mom's superdrive to work and having to upload all our beautiful work to the internet instead, at only 12 frames per second on youtube and 30 frames a second on iweb. ( I could just cry).
  12. Just found this tidbit in the forums and it is too late! "If you'd like to transfer a file to burn on another mac, go back to the project on your mac and use the Save As Disc Image command. This creates a virtual DVD that you can move to another computer and Copy to an actual DVD."

 I got to work with my son and his friends for this 7th grade project, they were extremely prepared with a script, a storyboard in mind, costumes and a boat.  They were creative, flexible and funny as all get out. While I am extremely tired, I am so glad I had the opportunity to assist them.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Who Follows Directions Anyway?

Do we read directions anymore?  Sometimes I do, and it is the thing I complain about to my son, "Always read the directions, honey."  If I followed my own advice,  I could have saved myself some time in last week's class. This week I had a new dilemma, after setting up edublogs for 25 students and having to go into their emails getting their logins, and then logging in to change their passwords to be the same as the other web 2.0 tools they use, I could scream.  Turns out I could have set the password if I had clicked on the advanced blog creation button and set the password from the very beginning.  I WAS looking for the manual but all they had were a bunch of pdfs, not even addressing the issue.  It seems that when I go looking for directions I never find them. When they are there, I may ignore them and play for a while instead, trying to figure out the solution.

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