Monday, October 25, 2010

Space Odessy Nothing!

My sister thinks all five of us (sister, brother-in-law, niece, nephew, and me) should dress up as the monkeys and the monolith from 2001: A Space Odessy for our halloween costume. Yeah, I know, re-dic-u-lous.

I recently bought a small vacuum for the carpet in my classroom and my nephew put the box over his head and ran around running into things. It's about as tall as he is so he looked like a walking box. My sister thinks we should paint the box black, cut eye holes, and turn him into the monolith. So that means the rest of us have to dress up (and act?) like monkeys? Sorry sis, but no thank you.

For as stupid (yes, I am completely biased) as that movie is, it seems to have pervaded our cultural psyche. Yesterday my sister pointed out that lots of people make references to it. As a lover of good allusions, I can hardly argue, but do they have to be about THAT movie? What is it about monkeys and monoliths, humans and computers, revolving space ships and "The Blue Danube" that we connect to? Now today I received an emailed link to an article asking if Google is making us stupid. How does it start? The author quotes HAL as he is "dying."

"Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave?”

Yes, please stop!

Okay, so I'll grant that I have never done an in depth study of the movie or any sort of serious thematic dissection. And yes there are those out there who really like it. And yes I'm probably taking it out of context because it was filmed before I was born in a different movie age. But, seriously, jogging in a revolving space ship for, what, 10 movie minutes?

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Winter: Bring it on!

The last couple of summers I've tried to do something to improve my food storage. Two summers ago, I stocked up on dry goods such as wheat, beans, rice, etc. This summer, I've worked on improving my canning skills. I've felt very blessed since much of what I canned was free aside from labor and supplies. The family I gardened with provided apples, pears, tomatoes and beans. My sister and I bought and canned peaches. I borrowed a water bath canner from someone in my school district and the strainer came from freecycle (a total score!). The end of the story is I have over 150 pints of these fruits and vegetables ready for winter consumption. My pantry looks comfortably full. I'm very grateful to all the people who helped me accomplish this: (especially my mother who was always willing to answer my questions)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pictastory: The Great Race and the Hike of Death

I loved growing up in the Bay Area because there were so many things to do. Yosemite, only three hours away, became a favorite. We've done day trips as well as camped. This particular trip happened the summer my sister and her husband were living with my parents.

Par for the course we did two fairly hefty hikes--one to North Dome which is directly across from Half dome and one to Upper Yosemite Falls. Considering how hot it was, we did pretty well on both. On top of North Dome, we enjoyed the view of Half Dome and took lots of pictures. Maybe it was a sign of heat stroke setting in, but I suggested that we take a panoramic picture of us having "a race." As you will notice, Mom soundly trounced us all. Also notice that my brother-in-law got sucked into the vortex otherwise he might have won. You'll have to click on the picture to really see it well. (ctrl+- will let you zoom in.)

The second hike was tough enough by itself without having hiked the other the day before. I've been on a few hikes where I felt like death was near and this was one of them. We were hiking in the full July sun with limited water so the six and a half mile round trip felt three times the distance. On the way back, we drank from the stream (not normally recommended) and dipped our head gear in the ice cold water (always recommended in hot weather). The view, however was amazing though maybe not something I would sacrifice my life for.

Our destination was just to the left of the top part of the falls:
Looks pretty peaceful, doesn't it:
At least until you see this:
It's really hard to image the amount of water plummeting down nor the velocity:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Won't you be my neighbor

I love that I get to live next to wonderful people. I was in the process of opening my classroom door this morning when my phone rang. It was my neighbor calling to find out if I meant to leave my garage door open. Of course I hadn't and she said she would run over and close it for me. This is the kind of thing that happens when I get super busy or stressed, so I'm glad to know I've got people watching my back.

Besides that, it's an opportunity to remember a great American who made a difference in my childhood. Thanks Mr. Rodgers for reminding us to be good neighbors!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pictastory: In which I almost get kicked out of a museum

This actually isn't exactly a good Pictastory entry as I don't have a picture to go with the main idea. But that's precisely the point.

Back in nineteen ninety something my family took a trip out east and stopped in Washington, DC. My mom, sister and I spent part of the time in the National Gallery of Art. I remember gazing with reverence at paintings that I had studied in my college Humanities class. I wanted to document the experience by taking pictures. A near-by guard kindly explained that I was welcome to take pictures as long as the flash was off. He helpfully suggested that if I stood at an angle to the picture, I would likely not have a glare when I had them developed. (Yes, this was before digital cameras. Call me ancient!) I have a number of pictures of paintings I had either studied or just liked.

Fast forward almost ten years and I'm in the British National Gallery of Art. Based on my previous experience I have my digital camera ready to go and excited that I would be able to document the paintings I would see. Being the upstanding citizen that I am, I approached a museum employee/volunteer to verify that I could take pictures.

I still remember the look of absolute horror on her face. It was like I had offered her a plate of fried eyeballs--curry or sweet and sour? I slunk away completely embarrassed. How was I to know the British considered taking pictures of paintings akin to treason? Sheesh!

It hadn't helped that when we had visited the British Museum the day before I could take pictures of whatever I wanted. Like this copy of the Discus Thrower:

Or the Rosetta Stone (focus isn't that great):

Or how about sections of the Parthenon:

Feel free to takes pictures of any and all. Just don't point anything at a painting.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Story of a 7th grader

I don't know how many of my readers have ever been to the principal's office, but imagine this:

You are blissfully sitting in your 5th period class when you get called out of class and down to the main office. There are a number of other boys there, all 8th graders. You don't really know any of them, but they all seem to know each other. Some of them seem like the kind of kid your mother expressly warned you to keep away from. As each boy is called into and leaves the principal's office, some seem subdued and a little contrite. Others seem ready for vengeance. Then it's your turn.

The principal asks you why you have been bothering a particular teacher on your way to your 4th period class. You really don't know what to say. Half your brain is telling you to say it wasn't me and the other half is telling you he'll never believe you if you do. You manage to stammer out something about how you don't walk by that teacher's room to get to 4th period. The principal looks at you and asks if you're in 8th grade. You vigorously shake your head no. He asks you if you know the teacher. You say that you are in her first period. Sitting back, the principal cocks one eyebrow and says there must have been a mix up and lets you go. As you walk back to class, you wonder how your name appeared on this teacher's apparent "hit list."

Later that day, you ask this teacher if she has anyone else with your name in her classes. She looks at you quizzically and then claps her hand over her mouth. "Oh dear! You didn't get called down to the principal's office did you?" You nod in the affirmative. "Oh, I'm so embarrassed. There is another student with your name, but not in my class and not a 7th grader. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear." With her hands on both sides of her face and an anguished look in her eye she promises to clear up the misunderstanding with the principal.

When you get home, you tell your mom what happened and she begins to wonder about the sanity of this supposed teacher. About an hour after school the phone rings. It's the teacher expressing her concern and letting you know that the principal does now understand what happened. You wonder what the next day will have in store for you.

I'm guessing on a lot of details here, but if it didn't happen exactly like that, it's probably not too far off. You can probably guess which end of the story is actually mine.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Astounding Majesty

This last weekend I attended a religious conference in Astoria. A lot of things happened--interesting, fun, and sometimes sad events that made the weekend memorable. Rather than go into a lot of unimportant details, I wanted to focus on Saturday night.

That evening we had bonfires on the beach. The weather was perfect. Hardly a cloud in the sky to obscure the thousands of stars. Not even the fires could hide their numbers. It was clearly a blessing as the forecast had been for rain. Someone had brought a mini scope and I got to see Jupiter with it's moons. The Milky Way was a band across the sky and someone finally explained how to locate the North Star in a way I could understand. As I stood there looking up at the starry, starry night, I clearly felt that God was in his Heaven's and that He could see me down there on that beach. I could feel His love for me and was astounded at the way he was showing it. I'm grateful for that feeling. I'm glad He has shown us His love in so many ways; we just need to stop and recognize them.

Photo from Credited to NASA.