Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Day

Today was a fun one...
8:00 Buying enough ice cream for 30 middle schoolers...
9:00 I was asked to do a refresher on a few applications for some 6th graders...
"No problem... Which apps will they be using?"
"All of them"

So it turns out that for this project the students were able to choose which application to use to share their info, so they had their pick from Garage Band, Keynote, Pages, iMovie HD, Pencil (stop motion animation), and ArtRage...
So I had to do an hour long training on all of them...

Then off to my back to back classes, one of which was having an ice cream party...
Class one: Finishing Inspiration with the little ones and an intro to ArtRage...
Class Two: Ice cream for everyone
Class Three: Intro to video productions, and a lot of fun getting the kids to work as a team.

1:00 Shoving pizza in mouth while running to car...
2 Hour presentation on Google Docs for 65 people.
Knocked over a giant white board on wheels, broke a plastic fork in little bits, dropped my salad, and wandered back to the car.

Doesn't look like much, but it really was a lot...

And tomorrow I will be doing another round of google docs and Excel...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Week in Review

So I have been slipping lately on the posting...

Summing things up for the extended week:
Sedaris was awesome... the two hours flew by before we knew it.
Kristy from Bandon just got her arm cast off after a little mishap with a ski slope,
further ingraining my belief that instructors are purely out to get you and have the "wammie" effect in whatever area of expertise they take on.

I baked another 50 cupcakes and found some new followers...

Got an awesome letter from Diana today...
Right around my birthday I run outside in the cold to check my mail. Not anticipating anything coming my way I am thrilled as a large package spills out of my cramped mailbox. A large manilla envelope with my name, and just in time... Surely my first gift.
I rush inside to reveal it's contents, only to find 300 sheets of origami paper and a short list of instructions, along with a note, outlining that the paper butterflies are for Diana's wedding and to store them in a plastic bag...
This came as a slight disappointment, due to the timing of it all... And I thought to myself, well sure, I guess I was just planning on crying alone in my apartment, surely this will occupy my time between drinks.

So today I get a package, similar to the one before with a few intricately scrolled captions on it,
"I know you are in the mood to fold another 200 butterflies,
Get crackin!,
Ye Haw!,
Origami is FUN!,
Hope your nimble fingers aren't tired!...
ORIGAMI Central...

I will have to admit, she really had me going, and a gloom was just settling in as I opened the package to find a pair of earrings and a necklace...

In other news, today was the start of my fresh new batch of students... This new crew will be with me till the end of the year...
We are in the honeymoon phase... where most of the students are unfamiliar with me and are waiting it out to do something truly horrible until they have tested the water...
I anticipate the fun to really get started tomorrow or the next day, after I have unleashed them on the halls with thousands of dollars worth of equipment and stand back...

I will keep you posted...
Banana Bread's done, time to do it all again.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hot Air Balloons and Banana Bread

So this last week has really gone by fast.
This coming Thursday is the last day before grading and then off to see David Sedaris at the Hult Center.

Over the last weekend I was able to enjoy the last of my birthday gifts...

I headed up to Portland on Friday evening to meet up with Cassandra before embarking on my latest adventure.
We visited a local patisserie and made a wonderful garden vegetable pizza from scratch before settling down in front of the TV to watch a few episodes of Dexter... A lovely little series about a crime investigator that is actually a serial killer in his free time.

Then off to bed in preparation for our 5:00 a.m. alarm.
In the morning we headed out to a little town called Newberg that is a 45 min. drive from Portland.
For this outing we had the added joy of an internal GPS unit to remove any anxiety about getting lost...
And yet, we still did... But just a little.

We arrived at the field at around 6:30 as planned and retrieved our name tags and balloon assignment.
After standing around and pretending to help for a while, we were ready to take off...
Climbing over the walls of a historic looking wicker basket built to hold no more than seven people.

Before heading out into the valley we practiced our emergency landings (as if it really mattered) and got a quick apology from our pilot who explained that the balloon came first and not to be offended when mid-conversation he would pull the lever on the torches and drown out the voice of the rider who was asking questions.

The ride went by quickly and took us over many interesting sights; fields, rivers, businesses, and finally the row of homes that we landed next to.

It seemed like a strange sight to find three giant hot air balloons landing among a residential neighborhood, but I assumed the neighbors were used to the spectacle.

I noticed one woman wandering out of her home and taking photos of the entire event.
I joked to my fellow riders that the woman had obviously had enough and was documenting the scenario to hand over to the police...

After the flight, which was much smoother than I expected, we caravaned back to the landing strip where a champagne brunch was standing by.

All in all it was a fun experience and I am glad I get to check that off my list of things to do...

This week I have gotten back into the swing of things by baking 180 cookies in two days and am now waiting for the latest round of banana break to work it's magic.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dinner and a Mixer

Today I am spending my Easter covered from head to toe in flower and dancing around my living room while waiting for the next change of state to take place... Like a slightly mad scientist with an apron instead of a lab coat, I check my recipes closely before beginning my mission...
But today is different that others... Today I won't be fighting friction and exhausting myself with a batch of cookies that seems more like cement with bits of oatmeal...
Today I get to barrow a beautiful little white Kitchen Aid.
I have many appliances that boast they will be so indispensable in the kitchen that you will want them on the counter at all times... But just as well known is that they sit in the cupboard collecting dust and hardly warranted their purchases.
So when faced with the possible $300+ tag of what amounts to little more than a glorified mixer, I was hesitant to say the least.
I have two toasters, two magic bullet blenders, a number of electric skillets, popcorn makers, and a milkshake maker...
Aside from not having the room to accommodate a giant mixer, I felt guilty that I would not use it enough to make it a worthy expense...
But lucky for me, today I don't need to think about that, since while over at a fellow teacher's for a get together, I was told I could barrow the fore-mentioned appliance to check it out and see if it indeed was up to the task of creating 300 cookies a week and if it would in fact make my life easier.

So after the first round I am pleasantly surprised and happy with the outcome.
My pistachio tartlets are toasting in the oven and the dough process has never been faster...

The cookies are next so we will see if this will help me keep up with demands...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Action Packed Apple Day

So this last Thursday was Apple Day.

It meant that our school was selected to host a technology visit. Teachers, trainers, administrators, and Apple representatives from around the country had the opportunity to see a glimpse of a day in the life of a student in a Phase 2 technology school. This means that our building is home to around 300 laptops and has access to SMART Boards, digital document cameras, and ceiling mounted projectors in each classroom.

Our staff was hand picked with technology infusion in mind, and over the past two years we have spent countless hours practicing and training in delivering instruction and designing activities to utilize our high end tools to help students be prepared for a world of jobs that haven't even been created yet.

Overall we were all a little anxious for the event and this being our first show, we didn't know how the children would react and what issues would arise.

The event went exceptionally well, with only a few minor hang ups with the filtering system and Internet.
I had three classes to demo and they went better than could have been expected. The kids were all on task, independent, polite, and positive.

It was quite a show overall, with teachers showing off Google Earth, GPS units, waltzing in the gym, creating interactive projects, recording stories in Garage Band, showing clay-mation movies, and doing all the things they do best.
From an outsider's perspective, it really looked like we knew what we were doing.
I am sure the teachers were on edge from the pressure, but they really didn't show it.

Happy to have it behind us, and glad it went so well...

Friday, April 03, 2009

Out My Window

The birds are chirping a little louder than usual...
No doubt on account of the sudden hail storm that has effectively placed them in the center of a firing range.
April Showers, not random bursts of snow followed by a sunny afternoon.
I should get that new umbrella, before the golf ball sized ice chunks take me out.

Move over Furby, I got something better...

My New Roomba
When I was a young teenager in Bandon, one of my close friends found out she was going to have a child.
No one was really surprised and upon hearing the news, her older brother walked in and said,
"Why couldn't you have gotten a Furby like everybody else?"

Much like a Furby, in some ways, my new toy is just like a small child.

You have to watch out for it, removing choking hazards and cords that could trap it or hinder it's range of motion.
Also like a small child, it has to be cared for... needing frequent changes and needing to return home to it's charging base when it gets tuckered out.

It has a modest little space under my green chair, which I had been planning on for years...
Like a Cabbage Patch Kid, I didn't know what to expect at all... I never even saw a picture of my new friend, we just hit "I want one!" and never looked back.

And I didn't just buy him... I made him.
Some assembly required baby...
I can now loom over my vacuum and shout,
"I bought you into this world and I can throw you out...."
Or "Did I make it clear, that your job is on the line?
I'm just going to have to find myself another robot."

So far I have just been yelling:
"Roomba, No!"
"Bad Roomba"
"Don't eat that"
"Leave the fish tank alone"
and "Where did it go now?"

The cute things it does:
I like watching the Roomba buzzing all around the house, with what seems to be little to no direction at all....
He goes under the chairs, tables and even the bikes in the kitchen.
He likes to rearrange the recycling, helping me by finding a renegade can and pushing it all over the kitchen.
He also likes to vacuum under your feet every other minute... It's like you make him think there is a new chair that needs to be cleaned around... So again and again, he comes back and makes you lift your feet off the ground to get by.

And of course... he talks...
Which makes him better than any ordinary Furby or small child.
The number one complaint I hear from Newbie parents is that they don't know what their child wants...
The roomba takes all the mystery out of caring for another creature by being clear and forward with it's needs through:
"Clean Roomba's Front Wheel"
"Clean Roomba's Cliff Sensors"
"Please remove and clean Roomba's Brushes"
"Please clean Roomba's side brush"
and "Timmy's in the well"

What more could you need.
Ok I could live with a Scooba, to wash the floors, and maybe a dish washer, but other than that I am all set.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Sputtering to Life

One of the many luxuries afforded by my complex and it's patented paper thin windows are the varied acoustics of the on-goings outside. One of my favorite sounds in the morning is the patient revival of cold truck engines. The best of these examples is the brown truck, followed in a close second place by the cream truck. Both take a good five minutes to start and have the added bonus of sputtering out of life moments after being started.

On cooler days the show gets even better, with the stop sign at the end of the parking lot posing a particularly great challenge to the drivers inside.

I usually hear the first round of attempts while I am still in bed, and gage how long I have overslept by how far they have gotten towards leaving the complex.

I just like hearing the sounds of the engines revving, and then after a moment of silence, the ill attempts to start them up again.
This is a life without cable, and a little towards the Little House on the Prairie at some points.

My Vacuum.... Any minute now...

So I am sure I will be over it as soon at it arrives,
but today my roomba will be coming in the mail.

A large box with a little robot that will not be long for this world.

It seems counter productive, but I am planning on cleaning the house before it arrives...

Many people end up cleaning before professionals come in. It's a way of demonstrating that you don't really need the help and that you are not incapable of doing a dish on your own.

In this case the pre-clean is out of necessity since many of my things would probably either choke the little roomba, or send it in circles, not knowing where to go.

It is an odd little creature, and I have been planning on it for a long time...
It's name is Eva, and it is going to live under the green chair in my living room.

I am still deciding if it will be allowed in the kitchen, but am willing to let it try if it wants to.

I plan to set it to clean in the morning, around when I get up, so I can trip over it, and wander of to work complaining about how I tripped over my darn roomba again...

In actuality, I will probably have trouble even starting it up, and be overwhelmed with the instruction manual...

We will see what we will see and I will keep you posted.

Blinded by the Light and Tricked by the Sun

This morning, I roll in bed toward the closed curtains to find my room is filled with light and blue skies peeking through my window. I am immediately filled with the urge to throw on my flip flops and jump into the car, following the rays to what ever scenic coastline they should happen to guide me.
I run down stairs and step outside, to find it had all been a trick, with the only solid beam of sunshine directly targeting my room through the adjacent complex. Beyond that a cloudy sky loomed over the whole place.
I know it is only eight in the morning and the forecast looks promising; it was just a minor let down that what I saw was not a preview of what I ended up finding.
For a moment it was kind of like the lighting department on the Truman Show had fallen asleep on the sun panel again.