Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kindle: The Past and Future at my Fingertips

Ah the Kindle. I can only imagine the possibilities. I’m eager to play a part in learning about the new wave of e-readers and I’ve been recently doing my homework on what benefits a Kindle will have for a person like me. I just bought one last week for my daughter. She lives clear across the country and I figured this would be a smart way for her to purchase and carry her college textbook materials. I even told her it could read her text chapters to her on her daily hour long commute to and from work and school. She’s anxiously waiting for her Kindle to arrive so she can begin using it. Her being thousands of miles away, it’s tough for me to go over her work with her like I did when she was in high school. I heard that the Kindle could support shared notes. If I had one I could review with her using Skype and a shared account so we could analyze and compare notes. That way even though she’s all grown up, I could still be a part of her educational experience.
As a teacher, I see so much potential for using a Kindle to enhance my students’ classroom knowledge. Often we find a topic that intrigues us such as this week when we were studying hurricanes. We did some referencing on the computer at school as well as with the school library but we wanted to further research the topic. How amazing would it be if I could instantly go to Amazon, browse the books and presto, have the information needed right there and then to help facilitate the education of my students? The opportunity would benefit so many people who may not normally have access to instant information.
But of course, I think I would get the most pleasure using the Kindle for my own personal use. I’m a voracious reader and I bring reading material with me everywhere I go. I usually download reading material now using my iPhone app and while I make do with it, the screen is not as large as I would like it to be. Plus I’ve heard that there is less glare using the Kindle than the iPhone, so I’d have to confirm that. But a good novel, professional book, magazine, and newspaper would finally be at my fingertips without having to squint at a tiny phone screen. I don’t know about you but if you ever had to take a long road trip with my husband, you’d really appreciate having something to read as opposed to trembling with fear by having to look at the road. Apparently he missed his calling as a Nascar driver. So in essence, having a Kindle would help my marriage because I wouldn’t have to spend so much time begging him to stop driving like a madman. All kidding aside though, just to have a part in the evolution of the way we do our reading would be an honor I’d be willing to accept.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Product Sampling

I do a bit of product sampling. It has helped me make decisions on new products. Great marketing tool. Well the latest product I tried was from Purex. It's called Purex Crystals and let me tell you, I LOVE THE STUFF. I'm not just saying that because they gave me a bottle to try. It honestly works better than the average fabric softener. It has several fragrances so try the one you like the most and it will leave such a nice scent on your clothes. Enough said. Just go out and try it, ok?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Jealous of the Bloggers

Ok, I'll admit, I'm a bit jealous of all the bloggers out there. I mean really, where do you all find the time? It seems like a luxury to be able to get your thoughts out in writing on a daily or weekly basis. And as you can see from my lame-o kind of blog, I've been a bit lax. Now my facebook friends would disagree because I'm a regular poster over there but that's just blurbs and I can handle blurbs with the best of them. But blogs, your heart and soul, being poured out, not as easy. Somehow I'm always interrupted. As a matter of fact in the last sentence, the middle child ran in and said, mom, can you drive us to the park now? You see? I told you, it's not easy. Five more minutes son, I'm attempting to blog here. Oh, here comes the little one now. He's cute but a handful. So as much as I want to commit to this blog I feel a bit inadequate. I want to be the one that does product samples and promote new ideas and share with the world. But I betcha that's not going to happen until 1) I retire- IN MY DREAMS!!!!, 2) the kids are grown and gone- I'll be in my sixties by then, 3) ah forget three, one and two are the blogging goals. Well blogger land, maybe I'll see ya soon, maybe not. Until then, I've got to go to the park

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Good Old Fashioned Southern Christmas

Christmas time: a time of gentle snowfall, fireplaces with decorated mantles, and the never-ending smell of evergreens. Nothing like the holiday d├ęcor to get everyone feeling that Christmas spirit. But what happens if your Christmas season is less than a wintry wonderland? Well I’m here to tell you that there are plenty of us that don’t have the luxury of the perfect Christmas postcard yet we don’t miss it either. Sure it would be nice to see a few kids making snow angels and carolers wearing their muffs singing at your door. But we Southerners have created our own special traditions, not to be dismissed. First of all, we have the Christmas hayride. That’s right, gathering up a bunch of kids on the back of a trailer full of hay and going on a singing neighborhood tour is good old fashioned family fun. No need for layers and layers of coats and jackets. Maybe a light jacket or depending on the day, even a guayabera would be all we need. But we still appreciate the season. We’ll try to keep it red and green and follow the latest fashion trends. Just no snowman sweaters please!
And you just can’t beat touring our neighborhood light shows. Nothing beats a lit up palm tree with the electronic moving alligator and flamingo display. Despite the tropical flare, Santa and his reindeer still visit down here. And we can put an abundance of lights in places northerners simply can’t. We don’t have to deal with tramping through snow, icicles falling on our heads, or slipping off slick roofs. Well I take that back, we still slip but it’s not because of hard ice but mere clumsiness. And our light displays can be seen from space because we must cover every ounce of the rooftop with an incandescent glow. It’s our answer to snow if merely an electric one. Puts on one heck of a show though.
Ok, no fireplace here but heck can you beat a tree decorated in seashells and starfish? I think not. And yes we still can smell the evergreens in the air. We get our Christmas tree stands too you know. We’re not that primitive after all. We just decorate them in style! No fireplace needed, although I can still hang tinsel on the ceiling fan and let it blow in the breeze when I need to cool down a bit.
Sure you people up north have your turkey. We have ours too, on the grill, mmmmm. We can still barbecue in our neck of the woods. No ten below zero here to keep our tootsies in the house. So the party never stops. And have you tried fresh dolphin with mango chutney with a sprig of mint to keep the festive flavor alive? Well if you haven’t I dare say your traditions need a fixin. And who said key lime pie wasn’t green enough for the Christmas spirit? Quite delicious and always a family favorite.
I could go on but you get the idea, Christmas is wonderful despite where you may reside on this planet of ours. In fact, I hope to learn Christmas traditions of many areas of the globe, not just here in the good old south. But I know that in my book, moonlit nights on the beach with a single ball hanging from that lone palm frond with a sandman and his carrot nose will always mean Christmas to me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Letter Concerning Florida Senate Bill 6 -Teacher Pay Based on Student Performance

My Dearest Legislators,

I’d like to invite you to spend some time in my world for a little while. It’s really quite fascinating and I’m sure you’d love it if you just got to spend a few moments with me. Meet little Emerald. She has repeated the second grade twice. I’ve waited two years for her to get tested for some sort of intervention help but she is on the “waiting list” due to budget cuts. After six months of trying hundreds of strategies I finally got her to spell the word cat without help. She was very proud of that accomplishment and gave me tons of hugs and smiles. I call her mom weekly and visit her at her job cutting fruit at a local grocery store. After at least a half a dozen conferences, the latest in March I asked mom, “Why after eight months of school has she never turned in any homework?” Mom’s answer was, “We’ve been busy.” Oh I’m sorry mom; I didn’t mean to intrude on how you choose to raise your precious angel. I won’t bother you again.

My salary is now dependent on Emerald.

And I’d love for you to meet Ronald. In the months we have been together, I have never once seen him smile, not even once. When he’s not on his medication which is quite frequent, he has psychotic episodes where he tries to stab other children with scissors or threatens to kill himself. He doesn’t like class work because he’d rather be at home playing on the computer. He does love science experiments however. So I try to do them frequently. I had to put them on hold last month because I was mandated to “teach to the test” and do all the SAT prep, Test Ready, and any FCAT resources the school could get their hands on. That made Ronald mad. He told me that the books were boring and he wished he were dead. He refused to even make one pencil mark. On the real test, he scribbled any bubbles just to be done. He didn’t actually read it, even though he can read because he wanted to control the situation. Ronald is eight years old.

My salary is now dependent on Ronald.

Oh and Danny, how I love Danny. Danny was in a head on collision the day before FCAT. It left his brain swollen, his body semi-paralyzed and he was put in an induced coma to try to save his life. I visited him in the hospital, held his mom’s hand and cried with her. Many of his friends came by to just see if their dear friend would make it. The next day, the class sat stunned while the FCAT was being passed out. Gigi was crying, Kassie was inconsolable. Their hearts were aching. They certainly were not at their best that day.

My salary is now dependent on Danny and his friends. (And yes, a year later he made an almost full recovery; thanks for asking.)

Then there’s Monica. She arrived from Guatemala just last week. She’s never spoken English in her life. She only knows her aunt and uncle who she came to live with when her mom died last month. Their English is not much better. They are well meaning, hard working people that will give lots of love and support to Monica but they are limited in what they can do to help her succeed in school. I hope that in a year or two she may actually learn English. But we don’t have time for that now. She has to take her FCAT even though she’s never seen the English language on the printed page.

My salary is now dependent on Monica.

I’d love to let you spend some time with even more of my students. I have had hundreds of students over the years with stories similar to the above. I could tell you true stories of self mutilation, drug addicted parents, parents who prostitute their children for money, illiterate parents, parents that have told me they hate their kids, kids with schizophrenia, autism, mental challenges, blindness, kids’ on oxygen just to be able to walk to the bathroom, various psychotic illnesses, I’ve had them all and I’ve done my best to be their teacher. But now, how am I thanked for taking on the task of helping to raise the most challenging in society? I’m not thanked. I’m criticized, I’m degraded. I’m made to feel as if I am the problem, not the solution. And now, even though many of these obstacles are insurmountable, I must be the scapegoat for when they are not completely successful in life. Thanks a bunch. So tell me, who on earth would put up with this when my job is eliminated for insufficient progress? Hey, maybe you can do it. Maybe you can deal with these issues day after day. Maybe you can “show me” just how it should be done. And no, I won’t say thank you, or reward you with a decent salary or anything like that. I’ll just sick the community on you so you can be “public enemy number one” when you try like heck to get these kids to pass a once a year test. Would you do that for me? Would you spend some time in my world? Wait until there’s no one left who will deal with “these” kids. Then what? What do you say then? Mission accomplished? Ok, if that’s what you want. I guess I should just be grateful for this latest slap in the face. I’ll just be quiet now and go sit in my hole. Legislators know best. So have a nice day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The New Diary Days

When I was a little girl I had this beautiful pink diary with flowers all over it. I was so proud of that thing and kept the key hidden under the mattress of my bed so that no one would know my innermost thoughts. After all, I was a pretty shy kid and the thought of my mom finding out that I had a crush on Ricky (he was sooo cute) or that I secretly wanted to torture my evil fourth grade teacher would be more embarrassment than I could bear. So what has changed? Why are we now handing over the keys to our diaries and letting the world read our personal blogs as if we had some ultimate wisdom to share with everyone and by sharing this knowledge, the world will be a better place. The amount of blogs on the internet is mind boggling. And most of the writers aren’t anonymous either. They put their face right out there in essence begging the reader to make a comment, validate their point of view, or just hoping to find other people that can relate to their ideas. No, the diary is not private anymore. Big Brother is all-knowing. I know because I look up my name all the time on the internet (try PIPL) and I’m shocked to see how much about me actually exists. Yet I’ve come not to fear Big Brother but to embrace him. Somehow the connections that I have formed blogging, chatting, or commenting on forums are as real to me as my day to day encounters. As a child I would have been embarrassed to share my secrets. Today, I enjoy the release of a tell all (well not tell everything) world. You come to realize that other than opinions on a few hot topics, we really aren’t that different after all.

How Facebook Helped Me to Lose Weight

There is nothing like having to see old classmates to get some people motivated to lose weight. So at the beginning of March, I made a note on my facebook page that I update every day with what I eat. All my old classmates and current friends could check my progress and give me encouragement or scold me if I get off my plan. When I first started this the weight was just falling off. I thought that the following month I would add a "public" exercise journal as the next step but I didn't. I was just lazy about it but I still think it would have been a good idea. However I am exercising regularly so that's all good. As of today I am now down 26 pounds although I am no longer putting my food log on facebook. The amount and type of food I eat is pretty much ingrained in my brain now that I used facebook for two months as a starting point. My husband is working on himself too and he's lost about 54 so far. Men, they always have to top you but he's really looking good. It's difficult to start this journey because you don't want people to see you fail but at the same time, you think twice about what you put in your mouth because you know it's going to go on display. It's worked better than any other plan I've ever tried, that's for sure. Public humiliation is a great motivator.