Jul 31, 2008

The past two days...

Lately, it seems my posts are coming about two days apart - evident by the starting line, "For the past two days, I've been..."

Well, the same holds true today. For the past two days, John and I have ben teaching a group of nine teachers how to use digital cameras with Movie Maker. I talked to them about some techniques of using a video camera, some ideas how they could use video cameras in the classroom, and then we turned them loose with video cameras. Not long a go, the co-op bought a lab set of Flip Video cameras. They were only $99 at Sam's! These are GREAT little cameras that have a USB connector built-in! Point, shoot, connect, edit! Awesome!

We divided the room into three groups of three, and they had to come up with a project idea, outline or storyboard it, shoot video, then pull the videos into the computers to create a finished product. They did amazingly well! Some of them had never touched a video camera, never heard of Mobie Maker, or knew what 'video editing' even was! By the end, all that changed!

One group visited Clinton's birthplace, another did a cute video on Hope watermelons, and the third did a 'commercial' about the Co-op itself. Everyone had cool title sequences for the beginning, used transitions between clips, added text to video segments and brought in digital photos to the project, then ended with rolling credits. Each group also used music in the background!

I am doing a one-day version of the Movie Maker class next week with a different group of folks. Next year, I think we will do the Video Boot Camp (as this two-day program is called) with Premiere Elements. It's a bit more robust than Movie Maker for the folks who want more UMPH in their finished products.

On my Indians site, I am gearing up to run a Scratch-off Tournament. Head over to the site and check it out. If you're a baseball card collector (or just want to have some fun), respond to the post and ask to be signed up! I'm giving away game-used and autographed cards as prizes! Why? I thought it would be fun to do!

Here are some pictures I took today (Thursday):

I love how our flag looks hanging off the deck! And the rainbow really WAS that bright!

This bunny came out from behind the air conditioner while I was taking pictures of Emily trying to hide from me!

I put the camera on the guy-wire on a nearby electrical pole. Emily played on the trampoline while I snapped photos.

Jul 29, 2008

500 Posts and counting

Wow, I just realized that my previous post marked the 500th post I've made to PoppedInMyHead! I feel like Jim Thome (or one of the few other players to hit 500 home runs). Okay, I admit, not all my posts have been home runs. Some of them may have even been strike outs, but either way, I am amazed that I've hit 500. Actually, I am even MORE surprised that folks are still reading after 500.. LOL!

When I started blogging, the main reason was to have a place to keep some things I had posted on other sites, but to consolidate it down to a single site. As time went on, I've posted about almost anything that's popped in my head. The main thing, though, is to keep on posting. I figure the law of averages will mean that something will catch SOMEONE'S attention eventually. Then again, if I ended up only posting to myself, that's fine too. Don't get me wrong, I am VERY grateful for anyone and everyone that stops by to see what crazy notion I've come up with lately, or what new way I have of showing off pictures!

I neglected to mention that I won a prize while I was in San Antonio at the NECC conference. By the time I got back from Disney World, my office had all kinds of mail and boxes. One of them contained a classroom response system. This one has 32 remotes that students can use to answer questions in game-show fashion. There is also software and the receiver in the box, and the whole thing is worth about $800 or so! I have played with their software a little, and even made a power point show to go with it. I still have some training I need on it, but I am letting Shan have it for her classroom. I think it'll be "way cool!"

I spent the past two days pulling cabling for a district. They had three drop points and needed 18 runs of wire. Luckily, I had thought ahead to buy three boxes of cabling, so I only had to pull six runs of wiring (three in each run). Then, I spent a decent amount of time putting the end on each cable.

It is a task I did many, many times while working for SAU in Magnolia, and then while working for South Central Co-op in Camden. Last year, I helped pull cable for this same district but in another room. Last year, I took some help with me (Marilyn). Since she no longer works for the Co-op, I went at it alone this time (John was teaching a DL class). I have to say that having to do it alone was not as bad as I had been dreading. The room was cool, since it had its own air conditioner and I kept the lights off - the natural light kept the room lit well enough.

I am the jack of all trades and master of none, for sure!

(Not my photo, but I wish I had taken it!)
Of course, the highlight of the trip was finding the $3.69 gas! I never thought I would be HAPPY to see $3.69 gasoline. For some reason, cheaper gasoline can be found at a little station just north of Lewisville, AR on Hwy 29. They sell gas cheaper than ANYONE within our usual driving radius. There is no real reason I can think of, either - they are not on a major highway, they are not a big chain, they have other stations nearby that sell gas at the same rate as other stations. They have no real competition, so far as I can tell. Yet, they consistently offer up their gasoline for 10-20 or even 30 cents cheaper than their neighboring gas stations....

They cut you off at $50, so I hit the $50 mark this morning and went to the school district. Then, on my way back to the office, I hit 'em again... Took me less than $75 or so to fill up! Man, I should NOT be excited about that... I remember when I could fill my truck for less than $30...

I am not getting TOO excited yet, but I found a decal place that will make the custom bed stripes I want for my truck that will have the Indians logo on them. Once I get them and install them on the truck, I'll take pictures.... Stay Tuned!

Jul 28, 2008

Emily's Cooking Show

Emily wanted to cut up some watermelon that Shan's Dad had picked from the garden. She wanted it recorded. She wanted to be on YouTube. It may take a bit to buffer. I suggest pausing it until the faint red line in the play bar is halfway across the screen.

Jul 27, 2008

Shan's latest obsession

Now that I have Shan addicted to reading people's blogs, she has one that was recommended to her by a friend. To say Shan is hooked on "The Pioneer Woman" is an incredible understatement.

The Pioneer Woman writes about her life as a big-city transplant and her kids and marriage to the man she calls, "The Marlboro Man." Her posts REGULARLY get 5000+ comments each. That's a FIVE with THREE zeroes behind it, people! Talk about being a successful writer.

Her stories are witty, sarcastic, and sometimes poignant. She posts recipes that she likes to make, and each one has a story and actual step-by-step photos to go along with them.

Check it out. You will NOT be disappointed.

Tyler has a blog and other random thoughts

I can't remember if I've posted this or not, but after a quick search of my own blog, I decided I had not mentioned it:

Tyler has started blogging on his own. He hosts the White Dragon Paladin (http://thewhitedragonpaladin.blogspot.com/). The site features things that he likes, of course, with emphasis on his own digital creations and add-ins and doo-dads that he likes to play with. I have a feeling it won't be too long before he is doing things with his site that will make you say, "AH! Cool!!"

Speaking of Tyler, he said he wanted to buy a laptop with his birthday money. So, Shan and I pitched in a little and he got his OWN laptop. It's a Compaq, which will make my techie friends cringe, but honestly, I like it a lot. It has Vista, which I am growing to tolerate now that you can actually find drivers for it and find ways to make some older software run on it. The main things I looked for was cost, of course, but also RAM, hard drive and video card. Yes, you can get $399 laptops, but they do not have the graphics capability to run the games that Tyler likes to play. He will be using the laptop for schoolwork, of course, but also has an entry-level gaming machine. I don't recall the model number off the top of my head, but with taxes, it was under $600 (our tax rate is about 8.5% or so, and I would have had to pay shipping anyway if I had ordered it online).

The MOST important thing about it? He is very excited and very proud of it. And as long as he takes care of it, that's what matters to me (that he's proud of it).

One of the downsides to living in a small, rural town is that UPS does NOT run on Saturdays, contrary to what the folks at big businesses may believe. So, while our DSL modem has been acting screwy and we were promised a modem on Saturday, UPS did not show up at the doorstep.

As a residential customer, I'm a little ticked off that UPS does not deliver here on Saturdays. If I was a business owner in this town, I would refuse to do business with UPS based on their "No Saturday" policy. That is ridiculous. This is 2008, for cripe's sake. There should be no excuse for not making deliveries to certain towns while you still make deliveries to other, larger towns.

Of course, I remember when UPS only ran once A WEEK here. And, I am also one of those people who believe the postal service should run every day. There is no reason that mail should not be delivered seven days a week in today's world. People need a day off. Yeah, that doesn't stop 99% of the other business in the world from hiring people to do the work when other employees are off. They're called "shifts." UPS, USPS, et al - give Mickey D's a call. They've been running shifts for quite some time.

Jul 26, 2008

Party Pictures!

The kiddos celebrated birthdays recently, so I thought I would share some of the fun! Warning, I narrowed the pictures down to just a few... Like 40...

Jul 23, 2008

Say it a couple times... It'll come to ya...

Discussing Work Ethics

At work today, I had a discussion with a colleague about the general work ethic of folks. Our discussion centered around well-educated people who would refuse to do a particular job because they felt it was "beneath" them to do. Part of the discussion follows:

Colleague: I dredged and swabbed out a commode a couple of weeks ago, when we had a group of people here, one of whom obviously was not accustomed to indoor plumbing and didn’t know that you can’t put the contents of a whole roll of toilet paper in there at one time. (My co-worker and I) do it all! I don’t have much patience when a teacher tells me she didn’t earn two degrees to __________________ (fill in the blank). If it needs to be done for the good of the agency, by gum! Do it!

Me: I agree about the work ethic of many people these days. We get people who apply here all the time, but they don’t actually want to DO anything… We asked a few local kids if they wanted to earn some summer cash. They were excited until they learned it would yard work. They were going to get paid very well, but they said they were not about to do any kind of ‘work’ for the money. You have got to be kidding me! Around here, we do pretty much whatever needs to be done. So far, the only line I have drawn is pest control. Sorry, but there is no way that rat-killing falls under any type of jurisdiction where I’m concerned. That’s why you can hire people to do that! Aside from that, I have cleaned toilets, changed out high-wattage light ballasts (without having any idea what I was doing), painted walls, you name it. The way I see it, anything that makes your workplace better overall will help you (well, me in this case) overall. It amazes my kids that I’ve worked at Mickey-D’s, Pizza Hut, and had a ton of other jobs (some were rather nasty) before doing what I do now… I told them they are expected to go through similar experiences when they get the right age. There is nothing wrong with doing any kind of work, no matter what it is as long as you do it to the best of your ability. No matter what you do throughout life, everything will add to your overall experience and knowledgebase. Some of it will be useful throughout life, and some will fade in time, but it is all worth doing and doing (as you said) honorably.

In addition, I've worked for at least two bosses that have their own Master's degrees and would be the first two people to grab a wet cloth and start scrubbing the floor if it needed it! You do what needs to be done. I have a saying that I made up long ago: "Do what needs to be done, and you won't HAVE to do anything." I don't care if you have three doctorate degrees. If the toilet paper needs to be changed - change it.

Jul 22, 2008

Rearranging the furniture

If you take a quick look around the blog, you'll notice that I have rearranged some of the 'furniture.' I've moved comments and recent posts up under the slideshow of my Dad and Bud Kitty's picture. This pushed the AdSense ads down further on the page, but so far as I can tell, I'm not getting any paycheck from them anytime soon, so who really cares. I also removed the "Snap" preview thingy (which in turn seems to have changed the color scheme a bit of my site. Again, who really cares).

What's with the changes? Well, I like to rearrange the furniture every once in a while to give a little different look and feel to the place. Heck, I may even slap on a new coat of paint and change the color scheme up a bit in a day or two. Yeah, I'm crazy like that. LOL...

Jul 17, 2008

My own bobblehead!

I forgot! I made myself into bobblehead: See it here!

Been a while, I know!

Yes, it's been quite a few days since I last threw up... I mean, last posted my random thoughts. I have been so snowed under at work that I have been too pooped to post!

This week was "Virtual Field Trip Week" at the Co-op, in addition to "Dave is now the Technology Coordinator" week.

On Tuesday, we hosted a group of Social Studies teachers and connected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in the morning for a program about population density and westward expansion and how that tied into the development of stadiums and team locations, then connected in the afternoon for a lesson on the effect of social life on the uniforms the players wear. Both were very interesting and really ties social studies into baseball and vice versa.

On Wednesday, we brought in a group of Library/Media Specialists for two programs with the Library of Congress. One was an extensive overview of all the things you can find at www.loc.gov, from old pictures to scans of primary sources (like fragments of the draft of the Declaration of Independence) to all kinds of sound recordings and videos. Then, the other program from the LOC was how to interpret and analyze photographs - looking at them objectively (what do you SE in the picture) and subjectively (what do you THINK about what you see - time of year, historical period, what was happening) and then moving toward analysis (what QUESTIONS does the photograph raise - "Does Colonial Bread still exist?" "Why was Colonial Bread tied into the War?" "Does this bridge going into Little Rock still exist?"). It was very informative and educational.

Today (Thursday), we connected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with a bunch of Physical Education teachers for a program about disabilities and diseases, and how people with certain "special abilities" learned to adapt and go on to play major league baseball. Players like Jim Abbott (birth defect - missing hand), Mordecai Brown (severed fingers), Dennis Eckersley (alcoholism), Pete Gray (missing limb), William Hoy (hearing impaired), and Jackie Robinson (diabetes). That was a great program, and I learned a TON about special abilities and players that I had not known (and ones that I did not know were battling with their challenges). One of the most interesting players I learned about was William Hoy. He was a deaf mute that literally changed baseball forever. It was because of his impairment that baseball umpires began using signals (for strike, out, safe, etc)!! How cool is that!?

In the afternoon, we connected to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History for the most INTERACTIVE program we have sen yet! It dealt with the five senses and how our bodies use the senses and how our bodies adjust when we lack one or more senses! We had a lot of fun as teachers tried to guess objects they couldn't see, "smell" with their tongues through a straw, taste foods without looking or smelling the foods, and much more!! That was flat-out hysterical and educational!

So, that's what I've been up to this week!

Jul 13, 2008

Random Photographs

Here is a selection of random photographs I took while out and about on our Disney vacation. Don't worry if they don't make sense - most of my photos only make sense to me... :-)