Nifty New Show

Last night, Joe and I watched Chuck, a slightly goofball but novel new show on NBC.

We initially gave it a try because we love Adam Baldwin (of Firefly and Serenity).

The premise is that Chuck, the head of the "Nerd Herd" at the local "Buy More" store (which sits next to the "Large Mart" ... yeah, I know) receives a message from ex-Stanford roommate Bryce, super rogue spy guy. By solving a riddle, the e-mail activities a sort of brain download/upload thing that basically puts all of the government's (read "CIA" and "NSA") most secret secrets into his brain. The original computer housing this info is destroyed, as is Chuck's computer, itself. So ... he's now the repository for everything the government might want to know about clandestine operations pretty much everywhere.

In steps a hottie CIA agent and a grim-looking NSA agent (Adam Baldwin, yeah!) to "take care of it." Mayhem ensues, naturally. The supporting work done by Chuck's Buy More sidekick, Morgan, is pretty funny in a Warren Cheswick-ish sort of way.

Anyway, we weren't sure how it would be, but it was pretty good. The camera work feel somehow different from the pack of shows out there, the casting is nice, since it's not full of giving airtime to a particular big star, and the humor is nicely paced. Hope they can keep it up.



Gosh, I Love My Husband

I just checked the voicemail and Joe left the most endearing message, which is impressive all by itself. He calls me from work maybe, *maybe* once every other month or so, usually to say he's running late.

But this one was just to be sweet, just because he couldn't be here for us tonight -- about how he knows I've been running around a lot today [to wit: work, Cub Scout store, 4-mile walk, football pictures, football game, Pack Meeting] and that he loves me.

But, that's not the best part.

He also left a message for Matthew saying, "I'm very proud of all you're doing and hope you had a good time in the game tonight. I can't wait to hear all about it tomorrow. I love you, son."


Love that guy.



'Bout Time I Actually Write Something

Get a drink and settle in ... I haven't written for awhile, so it's a long 'un.

My job is odd.

I don't mean that in the "my boss is nuts" sort of way (That was back at Kröme Communications in Pittsburgh. Bob was the young, hyper, anal, blame the worker for faults, but take all the credit for victories, having an affair with the blonde sales rep temper-tantrum guy. And Alan was the Colonel Sanders goatee dyed black, drives a Porsche, picky but obtuse about expressing what he wants, kooky old guy.). And, I don't mean that in the "my actual job description is interesting and unusual" sort of way.

No, this is more a "somewhat undefined with tenuous objectives and limited funds working with a bizarre existing setup I can't really do anything about" sort of way.

Let me explain ...

I work two jobs at the same school. I'm a half-day reading teacher and I'm a one-day (7-hr) technology teacher.

The school is small ... about 120 students K-8, one classroom of each grade. The classes vary in size from 10 to 20 students.

For the reading job, I pull out two groups of third graders and one group of second graders. We go through the school's reading curriculum together. They're my students, as far as reading goes. But, I don't have a classroom, I don't plan lessons (I just do whatever's next in the book). I meet with each group about 30-40 minutes per day. It's relatively brainless as the text is very scripted, but by having different groups I actually get a moment here and there to take a breath or a pee-break.

Then, on the technology side, I work with each class of students (weekly with grades 3-8, as needed for K-2) to teach them keyboarding, computer terminology, MS Office type stuff. Basically working to meet the NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards for Technology Literacy. This is the first time there's been any formal technology instruction at this school. So I spent my first week designing and writing a curriculum guide for myself to use.

This week I actually started teaching the students, but not in our computer lab, such as it is (more on that in a minute). Just vocab and terminology stuff in their classrooms. Got mostly questions on whether we'll have Internet access (answer: yes, the school has a T1 line, just set-up this past summer...the whole surrounding area is dial-up for miles), and whether we'll be playing games (answer: no) or using Myspace (answer: definitely not).

Now, for the computer lab situation. The school has 6 reasonably up-to-date (three years old) in the library/resource room/Basic Skills Instruction room, along with a flatbed scanner and inkjet printer. I've purchased USB extension cables so the few tech-oriented teachers in the building can plug in their flash drives without physically climbing over the monitors (and knocking several important cables loose) in the process. These run XP. The classrooms each have a few dinosaur computers running 98 (eek!) or ME (EEK!). Most rooms also have an inkjet printer. These machines are all working on a wireless network and are broadband capable (though we have it turned off everywhere but the main office and the library, as there's not content filtering yet). Finally, the 5th grade classroom has 12 dummy boxes running off a Linux server in the cafeteria's pantry. Yeah, I know. So the largest lab in the building is in a classroom, whose students have to swap rooms with whichever class I'm bringing in to work on the computers. That poor teacher. I feel like such an interloper.

The Linux network doesn't talk to the Windows network. At all. The Internet runs separately to each network at the moment. The filtering problem is taking a long time to be solved due to the two separate networks running.

So, why don't we just get everything going nicely? Well ... the Three Bs are my problem. Ben is a parent and is also related to a couple of the teachers. He hosts the school's website and e-mail, but neither are live yet. Bud set up and handles the Windows network (not sure if we pay him for that, or if he's another volunteer). And Barry. Barry convinced the principal a few years back that a Linux network was the best thing for schools being 1) cheap-as-free, and 2) relatively unaffected by viruses, trojans, etc. (and he's probably right) He provided as essentially no cost the boxes, monitors and server we're currently running, so that he could have the chance to monkey around with a Linux network whenever he wanted to. We're committed to a certain number of years in exchange for his "generosity" (read: you get what you pay for)

They're all good at what they do and not bad to work with. When they're available. They all have other jobs and handle stuff for the school "when they can."

And finally, the School Board. We could have the whole school running seamlessly on Linux for very little cost, using smaller dummy boxes than we currently have (mid-sized towers), flat screen monitors. Little space, little cost, little security worries. Albeit with the slight weirdness that is Linux. But. They don't really "get it." They're not computer-saavy to say the least. And the concept of "free" and "open source" is considerably too out-there-touchy-feely-New-Agey to them. They want their kids to know Windows and Office and to learn the familiar world of Microsoft. Which is fine with me. I'm good either way. But ... if the Board prefers Windows, and that's where they're going to agree to spend time and money. Well, then ... we need to do it.

I'm working with the principal toward a mobile laptop lab. There is absolutely no space in the building for a dedicated computer lab. I want 20 laptops for students, plus one for me, an LCD projector, a sweet laptop storage cart with built-in power strips, a wirelessly networked printer on the cart, and either eBeam or Mimio interactive whiteboard units. She's going to talk to Dell and see what kind of NJ Dept of Ed deals they have going at the moment (there's always something). She has about $30,000 since she's saved a bundle somehow on busing, and also on my salary (I had been a grant position last year, and this year they fit me into the budget, so they have the whole grant to spend.).

So. My job is odd. It has the potential to be cool, and it's neat to be in on the ground-level of a program. But, sometimes I wish I had a few more years working with these people and this system before I'd be in a position to make suggestions of this magnitude. I guess I'm still a bit shell-shocked by my horrendous principal at my first teaching job. Not used to having my opinion requested and my input seriously considered. It's a bit heady and I'm constantly aware of trying not to step on anyone's toes or overstep my bounds.

Thanks for listening.



It's Finally Here!

Yes, that's right ... it's
International Talk Like a Pirate Day

So, by Neptune's beard, don't be a bloody landlubber, matey.

That's right ... throw out your native vernacular in favor of Avast! Ahoy! Arrrrghhh! Drink your grog, eat your hardtack and amaze your friends with your nerve and wit. (positive I can't get away with this at work, and sadly not even going to try)

Shiver me timbers!



A Passing to Note

Robert Jordan
(née James Oliver Rigney, Jr.)
October 17, 1948 - September 16, 2007


ps. Now we may never know how it all ends.


As Promised

Well, Ulead still isn't capturing audio, which I don't fathom as it's always worked before. But, I used Windows Movie Maker (ugh!) and then converted into Divx, but then it didn't work right again, so I'm back to a WMV file, which I hope works here. *whew*

To preface, we arrived at 12:30pm which we thought was 1/2-hr early for a 1pm game. Well, we had our weeks wrong. The game actually started at 11am, and we barely made it in time. Matthew got to play for about 10 game minutes of the 4th quarter (He's a B-teamer, so he probably would only have played that much even had we been there the whole time. His team lost 20-0. Ouch.). Still Matthew had some good action, making some nice blocks and getting a kickoff "return."

He's #54 in the orange jersey. I have trouble finding him in some of the plays, so don't feel bad if you have no idea where he is. I think the highlight is the post-game interview. ;)

Hope this works.


Coming Soon...

I'm going to post a bunch of new pictures as soon as I have a few minutes to minimally PhotoShop them (you know, cropping and brightening).

And ... dun-dun-duuunnnnn ... video, too!

I am working on capturing all the video currently on my camcorder. I've actually done it three times, now, but for some reason the playback has no audio. It's time-consuming and frustrating, and I'm rapidly running out of troubleshooting ideas.

So, hopefully when I get home today I can quickly get some photos posted and then work on editing down some quickie video clips (some of this stuff dates back a couple of years as I don't use my camcorder all that often. I mostly forget it exists. What I really want is to show the last-weekend footage of Matthew playing football).

So, wait thee with breath bated for the upcoming multimedia bonanza.



First Full Week

*whew* I'm tired already (and I don't think it's from the walking).

Mondays -- I work 8:30-noon, Joe from 10am-9:30pm. Plus I run a Cub Scout Den (about a dozen first-grade boys) from 7-8pm.

Tuesdays -- I work from 8:30am-2pm, Joe from 10am-5pm. Then Matthew has football practice from 6-8pm.

Wednesdays -- I work from 8:30am-2:30pm, Joe from 10am-9:30pm. Matthew has football practice from 6-8pm and Emily has Brownies every other week from 6:30-8pm.

Thursdays -- I work from 8:30am-2pm, Joe from 10am-5pm. Then he has a class at Drexel from 6-9pm. Matthew has football practice from 6-8pm. Emily has a piano lesson from 4:45-5:15pm, and then choir practice from 6:30-7pm. I have choir practice from 7-8pm. And if I talk Matthew into it after football ends, his choir practice is from 6:30-7:15pm. (and I'm told Brownies is moving to Thursday nights after the first meeting)

Fridays -- I work from 8:30-noon, Joe is off but usually goes to the office through the morning. If Matthew has a Saturday football game, he has a "walk-through" from 6-8pm, otherwise for Sunday games the walk-through is Saturday morning from 9-11am.

Weekends -- Matthew has a football game, which lasts about 2 hours, with usually 40-50 minutes of travel before and after. Emily has Kid's Club at church every other Sunday from 6-7pm.

And I'm hoping to keep up with my training and then switch over to jogging/running after October 7. While hopefully losing 5-10 more lbs toward my Weight Watchers goal.



Tired and Sore

6:30 a.m. -- alarm went off, got up, got dressed, drank a SlimFast shake, filled water bottles, applied BodyGlide, filled fanny pack with various paraphernalia.

7:00 a.m. -- began this walk, with Sasha.

9:30 a.m. -- returned home, took bathroom break, dropped off Sasha, refilled one water bottle, left fanny pack, mixed new iPod 4mph playlist, reapplied BodyGlide, changed socks.

10:00 a.m. -- began this route, just me and my iPod

12:10 p.m. -- returned home, collapsed on the floor, Emily removed my shoes, stretched for about ten minutes, blogged it


ps. 15 miles more tomorrow.


Brainstorming Challenge #1

OK, put on your thinking caps for this one and really ... if you're a lurker or a seldom responder or whatever, please post some ideas for me. :)

Due to a shipping error at a famous Mouse-iconed company yesterday, we received this wig despite not ordering it. (We also received this bizarre-looking costume, but that's another ball of wax.) I called and explained their error, and they ultimately told me to keep them or donate them.

So ... we're looking for Halloween costume ideas for Emily involving a red wig. Thoughts? Ideas? Inspirations?