Thursday, December 31, 2009

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Looking back at... Something

Are you a "graph" person? Evidently, I am not. For the proof, check out the masterpiece I created below:
What are you looking at up there? That is a chart showing the number of posts per month for this blog, colored by year, sorted by month. Yeah, did you get all that? The goal was to show something of a comparison chart. I don't really know if that is what I accomplished or not. I started this blog in August 2006, so there is no data for 2006 before August. Looking at the chart, I have no idea what it is telling me, except for one glaring fact: 2009 was a weaker year for posts than the previous years. Look at how small those brownish bars are there!  I actually started out strong last year, but then fell off during the summer and really never recovered.

In case you are as confused by the chart as I am, the numbers shown reflect the bar height for the bar BELOW the numbers.

I considered writing a "Hey, let's look back at what I talked about last year" kind of post, but I decided I won't get off into that unless the urge hits me very hard.  I don't think it will.

To those that stop by to see what pops into my head, I say, "Thank you!" Hopefully 2010 will hold plenty of posting action.  I guess we'll see, eh!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Post-Christmas Shopping

Before I get too far into this post, let me say that I will be posting a "Christmas" episode here soon. For now, though, you get to enjoy my current ramblings:

One of the things Shan and I do when we go shopping is to comment on the various "misplaced" items we see during our trip. You know, those items that other people left on shelves, presumably in favor of the item(s) actually on the shelves? Sometimes, we find a shirt on the bread shelf or candy on the fruit roll-up shelf.

Well, today, I decided to bust out the camera in my HTC Touch and snap some of the things we find. I am sure each misplaced item has a story...

First up, we have FOUR, count 'em, FOUR, Banquet Salisbury Steak FROZEN dinners.  My guess is that they are no longer frozen!  Next to those, we have a box of pasta, which I believe is lasagna noodles:


The made-up scenario: Someone decided they wanted to have salisbury steak for supper one night.  This means they started in the frozen section and worked their way BACK to this aisle.  They came down this aisle from the main passageway, bringing them passed the pasta, where they spotted the GV brand noodles.  They picked them up, and just as they were about to place the box into the cart, they saw the EasyMac.  Ahhh, EasyMac.  Mac-and-Cheese in under 4 minutes.  Why mess with steaks and noodles when they could just add some water?  So, rather than carry the steaks back to the frozen food section (which they have to pass anyway in order to get to the check-out), they simply dumped their goods here.  The real question is whether or not a store employee does the right thing (throws out the now contaminated food) or the wrong (returns the food to the freezer)....

Up next, we have something of a mystery in the baked cookie area:
 
The colored cups are mini plastic shot glasses.  Someone had been planning a night of drinking games.  The red you see on the shelf below is cherry or strawberry soda.  It's hard to say if that was part of the same basket or not, but for the sake of the story, we'll assume it was.  So, the shopper has already been drinking and now has the munchies.  She puts the shot glasses down in favor of some cookies.  Why "she?" Because no real man would pick up colored shot glasses!  Panic strikes as she can't decide WHICH cookies to grab, and thus a torrent of box-slinging yields the mess you see, boxes lying askew all over the place.  At this point, she is so mad, she not only puts down the box of cookies, but realizing that she no longer has the shot glasses in her cart, she puts the bottle of soda on the shelf below the cookies.  She tries to hide the item, afraid someone might catch her.  Hurriedly, she walks away confused and empty-handed.

I almost didn't take a picture of ths last one, but just couldn't resist:
 
What could the possible connection be between pre-made mashed potatoes and a Glade candle?  I had to know.  Let's go to the (mock) videotape...  We see a man pushing a cart full of various groceries and other items.  He has a list that he glances at every once in a while as he shops.  He rifles through several candles before choosing this one to toss into his buggy, then he uses a pen to cross an item off the list.  As it turns out, this is the LAST of the Glade candles.  He finished his shopping and is headed toward the check-out when he spies packages of pre-made mashed potatoes.  He glances at his list.  He starts counting oon his fingers, presumably adding up the cost of the items in his cart.  He stops, picks up a package of taters and reads the label. He turns the package over and reads the back.  Glancing into his buggy, he reaches in, snags the candle, then places it on top of the other packages of potatoes.  Smiling and nodding, he drops the treasure into his cart and wheels himself toward the checkout lanes.  He can always tell his wife they were out of the candles.  After all, that *was* the last one anyway.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Professional Learning/Linking Communities/Networks, Christmas Shopping, Ironwood Grill and more

As usual, here are a few of the things bouncing around between my ears as of late:

The first is a reply I gave to an educator that has just started creating her digital footprint. That is, she is just now joining online sites such as WordPress, Facebook, Plurk, Twitter, etc.

I know many of you like to have context, so my reply (below) was in response to this post: http://debsdebits.wordpress.com/2009/12/22/social-networking-cautiously-getting-started/

My Reply:
I also too a log time before jumping into Facebook, Twitter and the like, though I have been blogging before there was such a thing. I think the essential phrase is "Professional Learning Community." Facebook is not solely one, not to me. It's a place to hang out with friends, talk about whatever, though there are professional organizations on there for sure.


I'm sure there are folks on Plurk that are not educators, but I haven't found them yet. And that is what I love about it. I not only choose whom I follow, but who can follow me. Yes, sometimes we get into the 'banalities' of life, but more often we have amazing discussions about education, technology, blending the two and more.


As you said, the key is always (or at least often) remember that everything is added together to build a picture of oneself. I tend to be the class clown with nuggets of (hopefully) useful tidbits thrown in.


The biggest 'bonus' for me about PLC (or PLN, if you will) is that I can toss out a question and generall within minutes have suggestions from around the world, all from people *I* trust...


Welcome to the big show. :-)


Jess and Nick (Shan's sister and brother-in-law) have been telling us about this place called "The Ironwood Grill."  Yesterday (Monday), Shan and I decided to go there for lunch.  The place is not easy to find and how anyone finds it without first being told about it boggles my mind.  It's located in Texarkana, TX just off Richmond Road.  Basically, pass the Sonic and keep going to the next light (I believe).  There, one will find a series of fitness centers on the left.  Down the road to the left, there is a wooden house-looking building.  That would be the Ironwood Grill.

We got there a little after 1pm and had to wait 20-30 minutes for seating.  That seemed a bit much for a place that was not easily found.  I will say, though, the parking lot was full.  There were empty tables as we waited, but they seemed to be short-staffed.  Perhaps they did not anticipate so many people being off this week for Christmas.  Who knows.

The inside is pseudo-rustic with iron ornaments around the place mixed with wooden designs. I say "pseudo" because it does not look like you are stepping into something out of an old movie or TV show, but rather like you stepped into a restaurant that someone had thrown up with stuff on the walls.  That is not a complaint or a negative, just an observation.  The place was surprisingly quiet once you got seated.  The waiting area is small, and with the tin and wood and iron, sound bounces all over the place and you can barely hear your name being called over the conversation of other waiting patrons.

Their menu (which can be found on their web site) offered an array of choices: steaks, various fish, veggie plates, sandwiches, and more.  Shan and I both opted for the Turkey Bacon Cheddar sandwich.  We ordered their "queso" as an appetizer.  The chips were warm and crispy - nearly perfect!  We added salt, though the chips at the bottom of the pile had been dusted with what appeared to be sea salt.  The top chips had no seasoning, which is why we added our own.  The queso was bland despite having onion and some kind of green stuff (cilantro, parsley, something) in it.  I'm not sure what the cheese needed but it was missing something for sure.

We waiting an insane amount of time considering we just ordered sandwiches, but it was worth the wait.  My only complaint about them centers on the fact that the menu's description made no mention of tomatoes or lettuce.  That would have been handy to know so that I could've told the waitress to hold the 'matoes.    Other than that, the sandwich comes on a grilled flatbread wrapped around a healthy serving of turkey, a couple strips of bacon, and a lot of cheese.  This was topped with a tangy bbq sauce.  I even ate most of the tomatoes and lettuce.  Yes, it was that good.  The plate also featured a pickle spear and chips.

Our waitress did a great job of keeping our glasses filled, too.  That is a huge plus for me, as I can easily down my own pitcher of sweet tea.

So, if you're ever in Texarkana and want something sorta rustic, but with great flavors, head to the Ironwood Grill for sure!




Shan and I went Christmas shopping after the Ironwood.  Eventually, we made it to the mall where Shan hunted for items for her brother.  As we passed Spencer Gifts, she asked me about it.  She had never been in one before.  I grew up with Spencer Gifts in every mall I ever went in, so I am accustomed to some of the things they sell there.  If you are not aware, Spencer Gifts sells a mix of movie-related items, usually quite bizarre (like a life-sized Chucky doll), and a mix of adult-themed items.  As we entered, the first item hanging on the rack was a T-Shirt with a list of things for Christmas.  The first item on the list involved a very intimate act which is oral by nature.  Shan's eyes grew to the size of grapefruits and her mouth hit the floor with an audible THUMP.

Now, even though I had been in Spencers many times before, even I was not prepared for some of the very vulgar items for sale.  I don't think many places would display drinking glasses, t-shirts and the like with the "F dash dash dash" word on it.  They were here for the taking everywhere you looked.  We quickly made our way through, hoping to find some cool movie poster or figurine or something.  No such luck for the movies Casey likes (Rat pack-era), which really surprised me.  A lot of Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, and Marilyn Monroe in addition to the horror-film items, though.

As we walked around looking, the expression on Shan's face changed from shock to disbelief and back again.  I had a blast watching her and listening to her amazement at the wares, games, and gadgets on display!

Now, as a good husband, should I have at least warned her?  Of course, but where is the fun in that!?


Monday, December 21, 2009

The iPhoneBook has reaching implications

What would happen if someone married traditional picturebooks with the technology of handheld computers? One company has proposed just that:



I like the idea of having the interactive features tied to the book the child is reading. Basically, it's the same kind of thing we've seen in the past, but updated with video and interaction as opposed to simply reading the book aloud when a page is turned. To me, that natural extension of what is shown in the video would be a text-and-picture book with the text in the actual book. Keep the "window" there for supplemental features, but let the book stand on its own for those times when the device is not available or when the child does not have access to the device (i.e, his/her parents do not own one).

Taking this further, what about coffee table books? You pick up a book on travel to Europe, slide in the iPod, and in addition to the author's notes and musings, you are presented with video, interactive photos, music from the area, etc!

A NASCAR book would not only depict and discuss the history of the racing, but also have 'bonus' features available when the reader inserts an iPhone/iPod Touch into the book's window. How about a book about your favorite sports team with info and highlights at your fingertips - why mess with DVD's when you can have it right there *IN* the book!?

Let your mind go wild with the possibilities!

(thanks to Teacher_Rick from the Netherlands for sharing the video on Plurk!)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Been keeping busy! WHEW!

Wow, I had no idea it has been nearly a week since my last post here. As many of you may well be, I have been busy with Christmas stuff and other happenings in general. So, here is a random-thoughts version of what I've been doing:

I cleaned my office at work. I wish I had taken before and after pictures. Basically, I have an L-shaped setup with my computer up on the desk next to my phone. With no bit a exaggeration, you could not see ANY part of my desk at all. It was covered with magazines, sticky notes, miscellaneous papers, folders, CDs, computer parts, and other flotsam and jetsam that had found its way onto my desk.

Add to that the floor surrounding my desk. I essentially had stacked boxes, binders, you-name-it around the floor near the walls. It was bad. It was awful, really. It was also about 3 years in the making.

So, on Friday before our Christmas break, Emily helped me clean things up! It will be so nice coming back to a VERY clean office after the break!




I have also been working with Kevin Honeycutt (http://kevinhoneycutt.org) and HowieG (http://www.dinosaursandrockets.com) on a theme song for D-and-R. They had some of the lyrics down, but I was asked to take it a step further. Once that was done, Kevin and I used Skype to video chat live together one night. He worked out the song on his guitar and we reworked a few of the lyrics in Google Docs. I'm looking forward to watching it grow as we add other collaborators (percussion, vocals, etc).

The kids and I did a little Christmas shopping today (Sunday). Shan and I are going on Monday and then I will be going out myself on Tuesday. Well, maybe. I might be able to sneak some of Shan's shopping while she is off at Payless Shoes, Bed Bath and Beyond, or some other store she loves. I'll let you know how that goes.





I also spent some time playing around on JibJab (the "Elf Yourself" guys). I put our faces in an abridged version of "A Christmas Story!" Watch it here! (I used Sarah Hartman's photo because I needed five people and it's always fun to include her in our goofiness... Well, fun for me anyway!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Robert Frost Challenge

On Plurk, the gauntlet was thrown down in a challenge to me such that I was to write a song based on the following excerpt of a poem by Robert Frost:

"But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep." -Robert Frost

In my defense, I did this in very little time. So, take it with a grain of salt, and my apologies to any Frost fans out there that get offended at my turning his poetry into something of a country song:

"Miles to go before I sleep"
lyrics by David Henderson

I tried my hand at poker
I tried my luck at love
I even tried my hardest
To find the Lord above

I left it all behind me
Set out on my own
Found the beer and women
Then found myself all alone

I swore that I'd come back
To this place once again
And I've been drivin' ever since
To where the story did begin

CHORUS:
I've been Missing for days
And gone for weeks,
But I have promises I have to keep,
There's a long road ahead of me
And miles before I sleep,
Oh, I got miles and miles to go
before I can sleep


I know she doesn't love me
Wouldn't take me back no more
But girl I left that summer
Gave me a baby boy

I don't have a dollar
Even to my name
But I know I gotta get back
To my son all the same

I've been Missing for days
And gone for weeks,
But I got promises I gotta keep,
There's a long road ahead of me
And miles before I sleep,
Oh, miles and miles to go before I can sleep

The white lines have grown so long
And I've got a long way to go
They don't even know I'm coming
What he'll say, I don't know,

I told her I would hold him
When my luck came around
But I got tired of waiting
So I'm heading back to that town

But I've been Missing for days
And gone for weeks,
And I got promises I gotta keep,
There's a long road ahead of me
And miles before I sleep,
Oh, I got a long road ahead of me
and miles and miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Monday, December 14, 2009

12 Days of Christmas (80's version)

Like on the first day of Christmas, the 80's gave to me
A cartridge for Atari


Fer sure the 2nd day of Christmas, the 80's gave to me
Two rainbow brites and a cartridge for Atari


On The third day of Christmas, the 80's with a spoon gagged me
Three sequin gloves, Two rainbow brites and a cartridge for Atari


On The fourth day of Christmas, check it out dudes,
Four slap bracelets, Three sequin gloves, Two rainbow brites and a cartridge for Atari


On the fifth day of Christmas, trippin as could be
Five John Hughes films, Four slap bracelets, Three sequin gloves, Two rainbow brites and a cartridge for Atari


On the sixth day of Christmas, the 80's grody to the max
Six Hungry Hungry Hippos, Five John Hughes films, Four slap bracelets, Three sequin gloves, Two rainbow brites and a cartridge for Atari


On the seventh day of Christmas, the 80's chilled and gave to me
Seven Apple IIe's, Six Hungry Hungry Hippos, Five John Hughes films, Four slap bracelets, Three sequin gloves, Two rainbow brites and a cartridge for Atari


On the eighth day of Christmas, the 80's barfed and gave to me
Eight BBS lines, Seven Apple IIe's, Six Hungry Hungry Hippos, Five John Hughes films, Four slap bracelets, Three sequin gloves, Two rainbow brites and a cartridge for Atari


On the ninth day of Christmas, the buggin' 80's gave to me
Nine Teddy Ruxpins, Eight BBS lines, Seven Apple IIe's, Six Hungry Hungry Hippos, Five John Hughes films, Four slap bracelets, Three sequin gloves, Two rainbow brites and a cartridge for Atari


On the tenth day of Christmas, tubular 80's gave to me
Ten Commodore 64 games, Nine Teddy Ruxpins, Eight BBS lines, Seven Apple IIe's, Six Hungry Hungry Hippos, Five John Hughes films, Four slap bracelets, Three sequin gloves, Two rainbow brites and a cartridge for Atari


On the eleventh day of Christmas, my 80's homegirl gave to me
Eleven "Where's the Beef" shirts, Ten Commodore 64 games, Nine Teddy Ruxpins, Eight BBS lines, Seven Apple IIe's, Six Hungry Hungry Hippos, Five John Hughes films, Four slap bracelets, Three sequin gloves, Two rainbow brites and a cartridge for Atari


On the twelfth day of Christmas, an 80's hoser gave to me
Bob and Doug McKenzie's 12 days of Christmas, Eleven "Where's the Beef" shirts, Ten Commodore 64 games, Nine Teddy Ruxpins, Eight BBS lines, Seven Apple IIe's, Six Hungry Hungry Hippos, Five John Hughes films, Four slap bracelets, Three sequin gloves, Two rainbow brites and a cartridge for Atari



(c)2009 David Henderson, for what it's worth. :-)

When social networking and professional learning communities (pln) pay off

Here are a few points to ponder that came across my PLN just today, and all within minutes of each other:

A new Kindle-killer is in the works:  http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/top-news/index.cfm?i=62152

Microsoft allegedly rips off Plurk, including very MINOR changes to actual coding! (http://www.atypical.net/archive/2009/12/14/stunned-at-ms-plurk-ripoff)

Other countries are dumping all their testing and various other practices to try and catch up with US creativity and ingenuity, while the US is hellbent on emulating the countries that realize "their way" didn't work: http://tannervision.blogspot.com/2009/12/if-youve-never-failed.html

As I have said before, sometimes social networking is not about YOU but who you READ...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The 12 Daves on Christmas (technology edition)

Okay, so I have been playing with different display names on my Plurk account.  Lately, I've been using "12DavesOChrsms" (you can only use 15 characters).  That sparked an idea:

Oh, the first Dave on Christmas shared technology:
An emulator of Atari.

Oh, the second Dave on Christmas shared technology:
Two turtle programs and an emulator of Atari.

Oh, the third Dave on Christmas shared technology:
Three Flickr Flicks, two turtle programs, and an emulator of Atari.

Oh, the fourth Dave on Christmas shared technology:
Four Commoncraft Creations, Three Flickr Flicks, Two turtle programs, and an emulator of Atari!

Oh, the fifth Dave on Christmas shared technology:
Five Spicy Wings, Four Commoncraft Creations, Three Flickr Flicks, Two turtle programs, and an emulator of Atari!

Oh, the sixth Dave on Christmas shared technology:
Six games for playing, Five Spicy Wings, Four Commoncraft Creations, Three Flickr Flicks, Two turtle programs, and an emulator of Atari!

Oh, the seventh Dave on Christmas shared technology:
Seven Dino-Rockets Downloads, six games for playing, Five Spicy Wings, Four Commoncraft Creations, Three Flickr Flicks, Two turtle programs, and an emulator of Atari!

Oh, the eighth Dave on Christmas shared technology:
Eight iPhone Band Apps, Seven Dino-Rockets Downloads, six games for playing, Five Spicy Wings, Four Commoncraft Creations, Three Flickr Flicks, Two turtle programs, and an emulator of Atari!

Oh, the ninth Dave on Christmas shared technology:
Nine Worcester Workbooks, Eight iPhone Band Apps, Seven Dino-Rockets Downloads, six games for playing, Five Spicy Wings, Four Commoncraft Creations, Three Flickr Flicks, Two turtle programs, and an emulator of Atari!

Oh, the Tenth Dave on Christmas shared technology:
Ten Linked-In Lead-ins, Nine Worcester Workbooks, Eight iPhone Band Apps, Seven Dino-Rockets Downloads, six games for playing, Five Spicy Wings, Four Commoncraft Creations, Three Flickr Flicks, Two turtle programs, and an emulator of Atari!

Oh, the eleventh Dave on Christmas showed his family




Eleven Plurkers Plurking, Ten Linked-In Lead-ins, Nine Worcester Workbooks, Eight iPhone Band Apps, Seven Dino-Rockets Downloads, six games for playing, Five Spicy Wings, Four Commoncraft Creations, Three Flickr Flicks, Two turtle programs, and an emulator of Atari!





Oh, the twelfth Dave on Christmas shared technology: Twelve Honeycutt Hotspots, Eleven Plurkers Plurking, Ten Linked-In Lead-ins, Nine Worcester Workbooks, Eight iPhone Band Apps, Seven Dino-Rockets Downloads, six games for playing, Five Spicy Wings, Four Commoncraft Creations, Three Flickr Flicks, Two turtle programs, and an emulator of Atari!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rockin (er, blues-in') on the iPod

I met Kevin Honeycutt (http://kevinhoneycutt.org) at the TIE (http://tie.k12.ar.us) conference earlier this year.  He is a wild, enthusiastic educator who loves to have fun bringing technology into schools, SHOWING how to use it.

Last night (Thursday), Bob (from Western Co-op in Branch, AR) and I met up with Kevin at a nearby Waffle House.  Kevin had never been to one before and he decided that was where we would eat supper.  The night started out like this:



And when things start out like that, they can only get nuttier.  After supper, we headed back to Kevin's room where he had several iPod Touches, a guitar, amp, and wiring to hook it all together.  Using the "Band" app on the Touch, along with other apps we tried, we managed to pull together a bluesy song and our own rendition of "Wipeout" (appropriate, given how it sounded!)

Kevin is a fan of streaming anything and everything, so he recorded us practicing last night.  Here are the two videos:

We started the night out just trying to figure things out.  We played different songs, letting ourselves get a feel for the software and trying to help Bob and me find rhythm.  It was not easy.  Eventually, though, we were so goofy that we kind of forgot about what we were doing, and things (sorta) came together.  I am hoping to do something similar in a workshop for teachers next summer!  It is going to be a blast!!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Are you a cold-calling salesperson? Then act like one.



The other day, while working on developing our agency's Continuity of Operations Plan (yes, that would be the Co-op's COOP), I received a cold call from some sales guy.  Looking back, I wish I remembered the dude's name because I would steer you far clear from this guy.

The phone call started off about as normally as most cold calls do, he introduced himself and told me he worked as an Oracle solutions provider.  Here is basically how the conversation went:

Him: "I'm so-and-so, and I'm an Oracle solutions provider.  I was wondering if you had any need of our services. I was told you are the person I should talk to about IT."

Me (knowing that Oracle is a database company, but wanting the guy to work for his pay): "Yes, I'm the IT person here.  What do you do?"

Him (a bit agitated): "Well, we're Oracle."  He pauses as if that should be enough explanation, then continues, "We do database management for companies."

Me (unable to resist the urge to pester the guy): "I'm not sure how that would help me.  Why do I need your services?"

Him (really agitated or confused, it's hard to tell): "Well, do you have anything you're doing with databases?  Like financial records or personnel or backend web data?"

Me: "We run Microsoft Office Sharepoint Services 2007 with SQL 2005."

Him: "Well, with your Office, do you run any databases or anything?"

Me (shaking my head because MOSS 2007 is not 'Office'): "We have a few Access databases, but that has nothing to do with our MOSS solution."

Him (either really pissed or very flustered): "Well, okay, yeah, I guess I'm not sure I'm talking to the right person then."

Me (VERY pissed off): "Whoa!  What do you mean 'not the right person?'  I told you I am THE technology person here.  We're running MOSS 2007 with Microsoft SQL. How am *I* the 'WRONG' person?"

Him: "Well, I don't think you understand -" He breaks off his thought and instead finishes with, "Well, thanks anyway." (or something just as banal)

Now, the moral of the story is this: As a salesperson, your job is to SELL me on your product or service.  Know why you are calling BEFORE you call a prospective customer.  He or she may still not buy from you, but you will be much more well-received if you know what you're talking about.  On the other hand, if you aren't sure, DON'T fake it.  How hard is it to say, "I don't know what that is" or "What is that" when you encounter a potential customer in his or her own environment.  And, last but not least, NEVER, and I mean NEVER talk "down" to a customer, especially one that isn't even a paying customer yet.  Granted, I pushed the guy a bit.

I have no idea if I will ever need services that Oracle offers or not, but rest assured, I will think long and hard before I ever even think about using them.  Yes, based on this one experience.  I don't have time to cottle and cuddle with some salesperson I don't even know, and I sure don't have time to play "catch up" after being treated like *HE* was doing *ME* the favor of his calling.  Next!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Giving Blood - A first time donor probably won't be a repeat offender

The other day, and don't ask me which right now, I have blocked as much of the incident out of my head as possible, I gave blood for the first time.  Well I *donated* blood for the first time, let's put it that way.

Emily has a "Project Hero" program at school and asked if anyone wanted to sign up and give blood in her name.  Being the good daddy I sometimes can be, I wrote name on the paper and prayed there would be a storm or an earthquake or maybe the blood-taking people would end up at the wrong address so I could escape the fate I had sealed for myself.  Alas, it was not to be.  Everything went as planned.

The day before I was to show up, I received a call from the organization confirming my signing up to give blood.  I should have said, "I'm sorry. You have the wrong number."  But I didn't - again playing the 'good daddy' role.

Though my appointment was set for 4:30pm, I could not give right away.  There was a line of people ahead of me.  The woman at the desk handed me some literature to read and told me to sit at the table and wait.  So, I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  As I waited, Emily and her friends played with my iPod Touch while made several notes on Plurk. 

Finally, my turn came and I was ushered to a small desk behind a blue partition off to the side.  In there, I was asked all sorts of questions regarding my drug use, sex life, sex during drug use, family history of various diseases and whether or not I participated in sex with trees within the last 12 months.  Okay, maybe not that last one.  I don't remember.  I blocked it out, or am trying to.

The woman pricked my middle finger with a small needle and took a small sample of blood.  Those little pinpricks don't bother me at all.  Some people can't stand those but to me, there just isn't much to them.  I guess I passed.

After the interview, the woman took me to a chair and sat me down.  I was not thinking straight, and therefore my right arm was the one to be offered up to sacrifice.  I am right-handed.  Not smart.  The nurse (or whatever profession the people who draw blood hold) tied my arm off with the rubber tourniquet of death.  This was followed by the rubbing alcohol pad made by 3M sandpaper division.  Or maybe it was just the 1500 lbs of pressure used to rub off the first three layers of skin.

I am not a needle person.  As a kid, I had a very bad experience with a nurse that decided it was easier to just dig around inside m arm rather than remove the needle and just try again.  That incident lives deep with my psyche.  As you might imagine, the needle pit scene in Saw II or III or whatever did not sit well with me. I digress.

The nurse pulled out a little plastic thing and a moment later, I was watching blood flow into a little bag.  She explained that they collected several samples for research and the like.  Actually, I think the first woman said something about that, too.  After the few vials were filled, she used what looked like a curling iron with a slit cut in it to seal off the tube in three places.  She then hooked up the tube that ran into the donor bag.  All I had to do was hang out and let the blood flow.  Easy Peasy.

I looked down at my arm and said, "It's a good thing you guys hide those needles until they're in the arm.  Otherwise, I would have been outta here."  She laughed.  I didn't.  It was a big round as one of those little promotional screw drivers you get in the mail sometimes.  This was not a think, little needle sticking out my arm.  We're talking mechanical pencil here, people!

After a bit of time - I don't really have any idea how long I gave blood - the nurse came over and removed the tourniquet and the needle.  Actually, I am not sure which order that was in, and I'm not sure it matters.  For some reason, though, it seems like it should matter.  Well, as soon as she removed everything, my head started spinning.

"I'm a little loopy," I said as the Elementary school cafeteria began to lose its reality in my world.  Immediately, she put my feet up.  Another woman brought two ice packs over to me.  One went on my neck and the other on my throat.  The first nurse came over and handed me a bottle of water.

"Drink this," she said.  That was followed by, "When you finish that one, I'll get you another and then we'll see how you are."  I looked at the juice boxes on the table to my left.  I was pretty sure I was supposed to get juice, not water.  Who wants water!?  Dang.  After I finished the bottle of water, she took it and gave me another. 

"Didn't they call you yesterday and tell you to eat a big lunch?"  She asked.

"Yes, ma'am," I answered.

"Did you eat today?" she asked.

"Yes, ma'am," I answered.

"And did they tell you to drink a lot of water?"

"Yes," I said, drinking a swig of the nasty water.  To be fair, the water was branded bottled water.  But to me, *all* water is nasty. UGH!

"Did you drink a lot of water today?" She followed up.

I shook my head.  "Um, No," I confessed.  Then she shook HER head.  After I drank half the second bottle of water, I got up and handed her the ice packs.  I was still a little loopy but not near as bad as before, and I was ready to get out of there.  On the way out, I had a cupcake.  I should have grabbed a box of juice, but I didn't.

Earlier, Emily had told me to get a RED video game.  So, I grabbed one on  my out.  Yes, I gave blood, nearly passed out, and had to drink (gasp!) water.  What did I get? A sticker or something that says I gave.  What did my daughter get (who left some time before I was done so that she could play in her mother's classroom)?  She got a handheld videogame.  How did THAT happen!?

Friday, December 04, 2009

You just never know...

On Thursday (yesterday), the Arkansas school technology coordinators covered a plethora of topics.  One participant shared what he learned, and I thought I would share it with you.

Things I learned today:
  • Looking for aliens at school can get you fired.
  • There are computers in heaven.
  • XP can look like Windows 7.
  • Erate windows open a portal to the past.
  • The naming of Windows 7 was a rounding error.
  • Apple is to Microsoft as CNN is to FOX.  Or was it the other way: Apple is CNN as Microsoft is to FOX.
  • All those who have seen a pinwheel of death are dead and can't talk about it.
  • Google may put OpenDNS out of "business."
  • Piracy pays.  (Both for Apple and  Somalia.)  :)
  • There are no luke-warm opinions when it comes to mixing government and religion.
The various discussions took place throughout the day via email.  People responded to the various posts/topics as they could throughout the day while putting out the fires they had to deal with in their daily lives.  Also, everything listed here actually was born from only three separate emails, so far as I can remember.

It just goes to show you that you never know where a conversation can go, especially with as a diverse group of folks as we have in that which makes up the Arkansas school technology folks!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

40 Favorite Christmas Songs

Oh you knew it was coming! In my year-long goal to post lists of "40 Things" in honor of my 40th B-Day, here are 40 of my favorite yuletide ditties (not in any order than how they popped in my head, and some are not "Christmas songs" per se):
  1. I'm Gonna Email Santa
  2. Silent Night
  3. Merry Christmas from the Family
  4. Away in a Manger
  5. Joy to the World
  6. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  7. Silver and Gold
  8. Heatmiser/Snowmiser song ("I'm Mr. Heatmiser... I'm Mr. Sun...." classic!)
  9. I Wanna Hippopotamus for Christmas
  10. Bob and Doug's 12 Days of Christmas
  11. All I want for Christmas is You
  12. Blue Christmas
  13. I'll be Home for Christmas
  14. Rockin' around the Christmas tree
  15. Sleigh Ride
  16. Christ is born in Bethlehem
  17. Go tell it on the mountain
  18. Do you hear what I hear
  19. Do they know it's Christmas
  20. Grandma got run over by a reindeer
  21. White Christmas
  22. Winter Wonderland (and the hilarious spoof "Walkin 'round in women's underwear")
  23. What child is this
  24. Snoopy vs Red Baron ("Metty Clistmas, My Fliend!")
  25. Silver Bells
  26. O come, all ye faithful
  27. The Christmas Shoes (How do you not tear up?)
  28. Have yourself a merry little christmas
  29. Holly Jolly Christmas
  30. Jingle Bell Rock
  31. The first noel
  32. Where are you Christmas (from "The Grinch...")
  33. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! (as sung in "Die Hard" haha)
  34. Mary, did you know
  35. Hark the herald angel sings
  36. Santa Claus is coming to town ("The Boss" version, of course!)
  37. Jolly old Saint Nicholas
  38. Carol of the bells
  39. We wish you a merry Christmas
  40. The Christmas Guest (oldie but goodie!)
I had to look up the last one because I knew what it was about but couldn't remember the name, which is goof given it's about, um, oh, I dunno... a Christmas guest!?  Yeesh.

Feel free to add your own! :-)