Saturday, October 25, 2008

Observations from the road

One thing we saw a lot of this summer when we were driving around on vacation was other people driving around on vacation. And we couldn't pass that many vehicles on the road without starting to comment on favorites, least favorites and oddities. And along the way, we came to the conclusion that there are two popular colors for vehicles right now that we just could not understand.

The first color that confused us was rust. Oh I know, the car companies have carefully crafted names for their colors. And this is no doubt something like sunset orange or pumpkin metallic or some such thing. But really...the more we looked at it...we became convinced it was nothing more than shiny rust.

The thing that was difficult to understand was why someone would choose a car that looked like shiny rust. I mean, rust is generally something we do not want to see on our car bodies. So maybe this color is designed to hide the real rust when it starts to eat away at the car? Or maybe we are so easily swayed by product marketing that we'll buy most anything as long as it is shiny?

Ah, but shiny rust was not the most confusing color option on the road. It was lagging behind in second place on the list of Most Confusing Vehicle Color Choices. The #1 confusing color choice...yellow.

No, not pale yellow. Not pastel yellow. Not even bright yellow. We're talking about glow-in-the-dark-oh-my-god-it-hurts-my-eyes-yellow! And there were a lot of them out there!

One model where we saw a lot of of this color was on little Volkswagon bugs. A cute little car...which can pull off being in a cute little color. Somehow that just looked okay.

But then there were these.

Gigantic macho trucks in yellow. Lots of them. And always some big guy driving this screaming yellow truck. And we just could not figure out that choice. Was that the only color available when the guy went to buy a truck? Or perhaps, along with buying the largest truck he could find (compensating??) he also wanted a truck that could be seen from the International Space Station?

Maybe he just walked into the dealership and said he wanted a gigantic, gas guzzling truck with the comment...
I want the yella truck cause I look purty in yella.
I don't know what prompted it...but it was undoubtedly our choice for Most Confusing Vehicle Color Choice.

And to any of my readers who may, this very day, be driving a sunset pumpkin rust metallic car or a lemon yellow truck so bright it hurts to look at it, I still love ya. And I respect your right to drive the car of your choosing.

But please don't be offended if I never ask you to go shopping to help me pick out a nice sweater.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Well that was weird

A surgical success! And yes, I know, it was just some minor skin cancers so it can hardly be called "surgery". Let's think of it as a procedure. A procedure where they scraped away three spots about the size of quarters on my back.

And did it hurt? Not really. I was pretty numbed up. But it was weird.

Scrape your finger over your skin. Go ahead...I'll wait.

And what did you hear? Not much, huh?

Now what does it sound like when you scrape cancer cells? Imagine the sound of someone eating rice krispies. That's it. That loud crunching sound. A little weird to hear that coming from your back.

And to put the cherry on top the doctor cauterized the spots. A little disconcerting to smell that burning smell coming coming from your own body.

And yet, none of that hurt.

Now...not so much of a hurt...but it really, really, really stings. A lot. And it does hurt to lean back on the couch. But other than that...which is mostly just my is all over and I don't have to go back for six months for a follow up visit.

Thanks for your good wishes!

You'll feel a little pinch

That's what they always say right before they really hurt you. Well, today I'm having just a bit of outpatient surgery. Three minor basal cell spots removed. And the doctor has stressed "minor" so I'm not worried about the cancer. But I always worry about the other part. I mean, the biopsies hurt some...and they were tiny! These spots are not so tiny. So we'll see how I'm feeling later this evening!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Learning about technology

I spent today at a very cool conference - the annual gathering of the Computer Educators of Connecticut. It is always a great opportunity to see the latest in tech stuff, to hear how other educators are using technology in their classrooms, and just to get a good pep talk about technology.

Today's keynote speaker was David Pogue, technology writer for the NY Times. In spite of his own technical difficulties (a problem with the equipment at the convention center, not anything of his own doing), he presented a very interesting and entertaining keynote address. He then followed it up with a presentation to a smaller group on Web 2.0 technologies. Both had a lot of great information. Both shared a lot of new things. And both were very funny.

The rest of the day was spent listening to other leaders in technology education as they shared about using blogs, podcasts, video, Google products, and other great resources in their class.

And I'll certainly get to take some of this back to work tomorrow and start applying it to what I do.

The only downside of the day was that there just wasn't anyone to share it with. If I talk about technology too much, my wife's eyes start to glaze over. I mean, she doesn't even have an e-mail account! (I know, I say that like it is the mark of satan! LOL) At work, since we work with kids with severe special needs, the integration of technology into our curriculum is challenging and limited. We utilize a lot of adaptive technology, but not a lot of what I saw today. So there just isn't anyone there to share it all with, either.

So yes, I'll take some of it back and share it and find other, unique ways for staff to utilize the technology for their own professional growth. But it sure would have been nice to have someone there to look at and say "did you see that?!?! I can't wait to try that tomorrow!"

Oh well, missing out on that certainly doesn't change how much I learned nor how much I enjoyed it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


The biggest event I missed writing about was our trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was our first real family vacation in 14 years...and it was fabulous. We spent 9 days on the road...flying into Norfolk, Va. for a night, then driving down to Nags Head for 7 days, then back to Norfolk for a final day to visit their aquarium and science center. It was all fantastic.

I could give you a day by day, activity by activity, meal by meal account of the trip...but I won't. It would take about 40 posts and involve overwhelming Blogger with hundreds of photos. But I will say we had the opportunity to enjoy swimming and playing in the ocean, going on dolphin watches, touring nesting sites of sea turtles, hiking, visiting the largest natural sand dunes in the eastern United States, flying kites on the beaches and the dunes, and so much more.

Yes, there were four of us with digital cameras so we really did come home with hundreds of photos. Son21 even documented his trip in food...taking a photo of his plate at every restaurant we visited. And I'm sure if you visited the Facebook pages of the kids, you would find more photos of our trip.

But I'll only show you a few here. If you want to see them all, drop by the house for a beer and a slide show.

We rented a house in Nag's Head for the week. It was a beautiful house with all the amenities - fully stocked kitchen, laundry service, heated pool, hot tub, five balconies, and nine (yes NINE) TV/DVD players. And each bedroom was a master suite so every kid had their own bedroom and bath. They felt quite pampered! LOL

The best part of it all was the location. Sitting in the family room or the dining room, we could look one direction and look out over the ocean...and in the other direction we could enjoy Albermarle Sound. And to walk to the beach...60 seconds. The photo above was the beach we visited nearly every day. It was perfect.

Not sure the photo really illustrates just how big and tall the dunes at Jockey's Ridge really are...but they were huge! It was definitely a workout to hike around the dunes. And Daughter15 and I returned to the dunes later in the week for some kite flying.

It seemed we could not get enough of the beautiful sunsets...whether on the beach, on our balcony, or here at the Sound.

There are a lot of famous lighthouses on the Outer Banks. This one, the Bodie Island Lighthouse, was closest to where we were.

It really was one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. And even in a busy summer week, there were plenty of open spaces and serene locales.

It was a fun trip. And after the past ten months or so, it was quite restorative for our family.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It was twenty years ago today...

Well, not really. In reality it was two years and nine days ago today that I started this adventure into blogging with the Shakespearean paraphrase To Blog or Not To Blog. And over the first year and a half or so I did pretty well. I wrote. I visited you. I commented. I got to know lots of blogger friends online.

And then a harsh reality intruded. Life dealt our little family a series of blows starting last December with the death of our 16-year-old niece in a sledding accident. That was followed less than two months later with the death of my mom. At about that same time, my mother-in-law was classified as no longer being in remission with her battle against leukemia and a variety of treatments were reintroduced. Shortly after all that, my favorite aunt - one who had played a very large part in raising me - passed away. In addition, my wife had emergency gall bladder surgery followed by a difficult recovery. And thanks to all the information gathered during that episode, she has since been diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes. And finally, I was diagnosed as having several mild basal cell carcinomas.

Fun, huh?

As all that took place, my writing and my visits to read your writing dwindled. It was sporadic at best...and non-existent the rest of the time. Finally, as I reached the end of summer school and left for our family vacation, I took a break from the blog. I had intended to take that break just for a couple of weeks while we traveled and relaxed. But upon returning home, the stress of the past year still weighed heavily. Several aspects of our life felt out of control as we had devoted so little time to things around the house. So I just decided the blog had to rest until things felt somewhat back to normal.

Now here I am! Normal? Not a chance, really. But much better. The beginning of the school year is behind and things feel much more settled than they have in a long time. We are still working to settle some things with my mom's estate. My MIL has completed some very successful courses of chemo and the doctors are hopeful that she will again be considered in remission. And my wife's health is doing just fine.

So I'm back! And no, you don't have to leave any sympathetic comments about all that happened. We all have bad times and so many of you have already left comments or e-mailed (or both!) just to check on me. And I gotta say, to get so many e-mails from folks who just wanted to say "hi" see how I was doing...and who said they missed reading the blog, that was awesome. Thank you!

Over the next few weeks I'll try to catch up on things that I've missed writing about...and get back in the swing of things. And I can't wait to wander around and see all that has been going on with everyone!

To Blog or Not To Blog? The answer is still a resounding YES!