Friday, September 30, 2011


I hit a dud on the Shellac front.

Katie and I had both seen several photographs online of some cobalt blue nails, an effect that can be gained by layering Negligee over Black Pool. If I twist my hand in just the right direction, yes, there's a tinge of blue, but nothing dramatic.

It wasn't a total loss. Once we realized that the Negligee wasn't so sexy, Katie suggested putting Moonlight and Roses over the Black Pool. THAT looks nice, kind of a purple metallic.

Pictures of both tomorrow.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Halloween is Coming

Game Teen, while beyond the age of trick or treating, loves Halloween. The costumes, the ability to wear someone else's imaginative ideas, really tickles him like few things do in the everyday world.

Many months ago, he told me he had a costume in mind, and we discussed making it. Well, the time has gotten away from us, my sewing machine is buried in storage and I am woefully behind on schoolwork. I don't have time to cut, pin and sew an elaborate costume in time for this Halloween.

So I went on line and found quite a few suppliers of the costume in question. Several who will custom make a costume to his measurements, in fact. While about triple in price to a traditional store-bought item, the quality is far superior. I honestly don't expect him to grow much more than he has thus far, so shelling it out isn't going to be a case of spending more than I usually do for something that will see one year's use.

In looking for his, though, one of the suppliers offers full Ravenclaw gear, robes, quiddich uniform, scarves and everything for the smartest house at Hogwarts. It is rather tempting...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Breakfast Week?

Yesterday was National Pancake Day. I found out today was National Corned Beef Hash Day, but after I arrived at work, thus missing my opportunity to stop and get some for breakfast.

Apparently, tomorrow is coffee day. (7-11 is giving away free coffee from 7 to 11 and I think Dunkin' Donuts is doing something similar.) So we've got the pancakes, the hash and the coffee in a row.

Is tomorrow Orange Juice Day? Fruit Cup Day? Maple Syrup?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Convention vs. Reality

Last year, some advice that I was given by others in graduate studies (and echoed by a couple of faculty members, I might add) is that you never want all your degrees to come from the same University.

The conventional wisdom behind this is that it indicates the student is complacent in the known and avoids spreading their wings, taking risks and the idea of change in general. I thought it was odd that this would be stated, especially since my observation is that a good research institution is going to challenge you no matter whether you've been there for your undergraduate and/or master's programs, because they want to foster good researchers. It wouldn't serve them well to get soft in the upper tiers.

So, this view, shared by more than a few people, is a large part of motivated me to seek out other schools. Honestly, if I didn't have a family to consider, GameTeen's unique needs or a garage and storage facility full of crappe de Jane, I'd be all over the idea of moving somewhere else on the East Coast. I like what I've seen of it and wouldn't mind landing in another town on this side of the country.

Another evening class and a discussion with a professor later, some 'conventional wisdom' has been shown the door, namely, when the University hires faculty, they don't look at someone with three degrees from XYZ U and say "nope, resistant to change." Instead, they're looking at what publications has he or she had and where, what research have they done/are they doing, and do they bring something new to the table? I'm sure where the prospective faculty went to school does come into the equation, but not a 'three strikes, you're out' approach.

The only negative he could offer is that it is extremely hard to get hired in to the University as faculty after getting a Ph.D from my alma mater. That's not to say that they wouldn't eventually, but the stars have to align in a smallish department for that to happen.

And while that would be a good thing if it happened, we were kind of prepared that I'd finish out my doctoral studies here (lalalala, I'm not listening, post doc research, lalalala) and get a job on faculty at some school that doesn't have snow, tornadoes, earthquakes, but does have a need for a faculty member versed in technology and the special education student.

Ed and I have used several date nights lately to talk about those possibilities and to prepare for them. We know that while we like Florida, we're not thrilled with this house and this town/county. If we had our druthers, we'd be a few miles west of here, back into a county I liked if we have to stay here post Ph.D.

It was nice to hear the reality of what happens in those faculty search committees, to know the real questions are about the work you've produced, not the name at the top of all the degrees that make you a qualified applicant.

In fact, I think this helped me to cut the application pile from six to four, maybe even three!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Preparing Contingency Plans

One of my classes has a group project that will make up half my grade. When my group was created out of default a little over a week ago, I felt pretty good about the match-even though we didn't hear from one of the group members, then had a flurry of emails and contributions to the discussion from her the day of class.

Tuesday night, we came up with three ideas that we wanted to explore for our project, with each of us taking one of them to explore more in depth. I posted the week's punch list (as the manager of the project, it was my role) and member one quickly turned in her part.

The two days later, member two submitted a report-on the same item. Since then, there's been no response to emails, nor a response to the group contract that she needs to add material to before it can be posted.

Last week, there was a little worry that something was wrong. This week, I realize this may just be the way she operates-but it doesn't work well for group projects. The other group member and I chatted tonight for twenty minutes and it's good that we're on the same page.

The project we're looking at doing can easily be scaled for two or three people to do, so we'll bite the bullet if the other person bails on us. It was good to know she was on the same page, that we may need to have a plan B in this situation. As much as she'd already impressed me with the calibre of her work, she just kicked that up several notches with the knowledge that we may be dealing with a group of two.

It could be a stressful situation (on top of the life stresses), but we both are feeling pretty good that we're on top of it. If person two doesn't show up tomorrow night, we're ready to ask our professor to grant us a little favor of seeing the weekly assignment modules early to allow us to map things out now, instead of as each week's assignments are released.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tornado Alley

After watching Storm Chasers last year, I knew one thing-my fear of tornadoes is justified. I have a great deal of respect for the people who chase the storms, all in an effort to video tape them, or set down sensing devices to hopefully learn more about them and increase warning times.

One of the teams followed was Sean Casey and his TIV (Tornado Intercept Vehicle). His efforts were to make an IMAX film about tornadoes and to be honest, I thought the guy was an ass. He is more than a little high strung and he treats his team members like idiots-which they definitely are not.

Today, the boys and I went over to MOSI and we watch the film that was created, Tornado Alley. It had many images like this one, which only increase my fear of the midwest as a place to live:
If you're going to see this film, be prepared, it's a little dizzying. I'm not sure how much of that was because we viewed it in an IMAX dome or because our seats reclined, but the kids experienced some degree of it. Some of it was definitely my Chiari, but some of it was the large format.

It presented far more about the DOW efforts to get inside those storms than the Discovery Channel program. Lets just say that their efforts are paying off.

Then, tonight, in the season premiere of Storm Chasers, Sean Casey is shooting more footage. This time, for a 3D movie.

I don't know if I can take that much realism. It may keep me out of the midwest completely during tornado season!

Saturday, September 24, 2011


No, it's not the answer to the question of Life, the Universe and Everything, it's the number of magazines the festering maggot idiot has bestowed upon my family. All I can say at this point is that the Postal Inspector is in receipt of copies of 27 of the invoices, the local Sheriff's department is also has those copies, as well as one of the original postcards and a card that is signed by our possible suspect.

One has to wonder how screwed up an individual must be to send this many magazines to one house, using different names in the process (GameTeen has apparently been adopted by people with another surname). How cowardly is a person, rather than tell us we ticked them off, to instead clog our mailbox and use the USPS in a passive-aggressive manner to show displeasure?

The sad part is that the federal government does not take kindly to the use of the postal system in this way. All the person had to say is "Suzanne, I'm pissed at you," though I cannot think of anyone that possibly could be that ticked at me. I signed an affidavit that I will press charges when the party is discovered, and I will. I have no control over what the USPS will do, though the articles I've read online give me the impression that they do not take these cases lightly. The ramifications of this go far beyond annoying me.

At this point, I'm just waiting for cards to show up to turn over to the police and these invoices to stop coming. I doubt either will end soon.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Painting a Memory

Tonight, I got to do one of the paintings at Paint Along that I'd seen several times, but my life schedule conflicted with their schedule. That said, I saw it, and it reminded me of Skyline Drive, so I wanted to have it hanging on my wall.

Now I will:

Sure enough, the painting David did (which is much nicer than mine, by a lot), is based on a photograph of the Smoky Mountains-just a little further south in Virginia than the area that this reminded me of.

Not bad.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sign of the Times

In tonight's web programming class, the TA put some important coding on the board. He asked us to come up to the board to see what he had written, so that he could explain it step by step.

I walked up, digital recorder in hand, as I'd asked the first day of class to record. Also in hand: my iPhone. I figured I would take pictures of the code and then transfer it over to a Word doc tomorrow. So, as TA spoke, I got several pictures of the white board, including the changes he made through the process of explaining Arrays.

The book suggests putting Array codes in line, but the TA prefers putting them in the header, because it makes for cleaner HTML coding. I have to say that I like his way better, because it will make it easier to debug.

When we were done, I go to return to my seat and the professor asks "When you get a chance, would you post those to the discussion board?" So, the idea to take the pictures, instead of being an annoyance, was viewed as a positive, and a fellow classmate laughed at my use of technology to work FOR me.

Hey, whatever helps me remember this stuff, I'm using it. Except tattoos. I don't think I'll need a permanent reminder of JavaScript codes!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Homework Fun

As if there wasn't enough proof on this blog of my geeky tendencies:

This week's group assignment is designed for us to learn how to sort out who does what in the assignments. We have to create a brief Power Point to explain to 6th grade students the proximity of Earth to other celestial bodies, then calculate the travel time in a space vehicle at a speed of 30,000 mph and present the time elapsed in a way the students will understand.

I took the research part, because I enjoy it, probably far more than a person should. Of course, I got the information (using average distance, because we're not getting into elliptical orbits and double the work, people) and came up with this:

Statistical information for Space Travel Group assignment

Each of these distances is an average between the closest possible location and furthest possible location, due to elliptical orbits of all the planets. (It's better than doing two for each!)

1. Moon- 238,854 miles from Earth It takes almost 8 hours to get there from Earth, so if you left here at 8 am, you'd be able to have dinner on the moon.

2. Mars- approximately 139,808,518 miles from Earth. At 30,000/mph, it'd take 4,660 hours or 194.5 days to get to the red planet. Or, if a student left Earth at 8 am the first day of school, August 22, 2011, they wouldn't get there until March 3 at bedtime.

3. Saturn- approximately 821,190,000 miles from Earth. At 30,000/mph, it'd take 27,373 hours, or 1140.5 days. If you left Earth the first day of 6th grade (August 22, 2010), you wouldn't arrive on Saturn until Sunday, October 5, 2014. You'd be a freshman in high school and have a pretty good excuse note for not doing three years worth of homework!

4. Pluto- approximately 2,659,800,000 from Earth. At 30,000/mph, it would take 88,660 hours to get to the downgraded former planet (poor Pluto). This is 3,694 days or 10 years and one month. Just think, if you left the first day of 6th grade this year (August 22, 2011), you'd be in your senior year of college when you got there!

5. Sun- approximately 93 million miles from Earth. AT 30,000/mph, it would take 3132 hours, or 130.5 days to arrive at a place that is hotter than Florida-all the time. If you left the first day of school, you'd arrive on December 30th of this year.

Is it any wonder that I finally cracked open the season one DVDs of Big Bang Theory, watch two episodes and laughed my head off for 44 minutes?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Group Project Redux

The bane of a college student's experience is the dreaded 'group project.' I think I heard more than a couple of you groan in the peanut gallery. I was with you in the past, because the only two good groups I had in my undergraduate classes contained my friend Jessica, one of the hardest working students I know.

So, group projects. I hadn't had the best experiences with them prior to graduate studies, but I have to admit, they've worked out extremely well for me. In my Interactive Media class, I was paired with two very talented ladies who were understanding of my Jane situation and also very willing to allow me to do the writing part of our project. (me + writing = happy Suzanne).

In the other group, somehow, the four of us divided up the content we had to present in such a way that we all covered the material we gravitated towards all semester long. That group was fun and is directly responsible for the Season One 'Big Bang Theory' DVDs that are sitting on the table next to me that I haven't had the time to watch yet. (but I've seen enough clips on You Tube to know that I *will* enjoy this show.

Here we are, another semester and another group project. This time, it counts for half of my grade. Holy moly, Batman-HALF the grade! In the past, the professor selected the groups, based on student strengths and weaknesses identified in a self-assessment tool. He's now allowing students to self select groups, but all eleven of us were ambivalent, preferring him to review our information.

Instead, we had until last Friday to select, then he'd do the rest of the work. However, two groups of four selected their partners, which left three of us to form group three. I was a little concerned when I didn't get a reply from either partner, though one was out of the country for ten days.

After spending time working together in class tonight, I'm thinking we'll be a very good combination. C is a teacher, and we need one in our group. A is a graphic designer and her online portfolio is incredible. Each group needed a manager type, and I fit that bill, but tonight, we realized I provided something that the other two needed: a writer who likes to research. They both said they dislike writing, plus the homework for the week needs a little bit of research.

Until I started working again, I didn't realize that the Google skills I thought everyone has are not a common skill. Soooooo, here I am with two ladies who would prefer that I work my search engine magic for this assignment. Once again, a happy Suzanne.

I may have gotten the best group of all.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Baking Bread

I've said it before, I'm a frustrated artist. I can see a picture in my head, but I can't transfer the mental picture into a similar result on a page.

Which is why, when presented with an assignment to complete a storyboard for class, I'm doing two things I've had a lot of practice in doing: baking and taking pictures along the way.

If this is the bread my professor baked for both classes during our first week, I'm happy-and the nutella is at the ready...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Melding Topics

When I met with an admissions advisor about my plans to study Instructional Technology, I knew the program would be available as a masters program, but what should I study to obtain the bachelor's degree? Fortunately, Sal suggested Psychology as a good foundation. (He had friends who worked as Instructional Designers.)

Once again, the work I'm asked to do this semester draws heavily on that background, just as the previous two semesters had covered behaviorism, cognitive theory and research methods. The web-only class is currently going through the history of Instructional Systems Design (ISD), and it draws heavily from the lessons from last year. I find it funny that I encoded those lessons well and am recalling them when I'm reading about how we process and store information in long-term memory.

One little piece of history cracked me up, though. The Ford Foundation, in the 50's and 60's, provided heavy funding for schools to have televisions in classrooms, and supplied them for several entire school districts, one of which stopped me short: Washington County, Maryland.

In 1992, I took courses from the local junior college. Fundamental Concepts of Arithmetic was one of the classes, and it met at North High in Hagerstown, as well as at Hancock Middle/Senior High School 30 miles to the west. The two schools used a closed circuit system to display a live video feed of the professor, and some weeks, he was in Hagerstown, others in Hancock. I worked in Hagerstown, but lived 3 miles west of the school in Hancock, so I also ended up in either locale.

It was also broadcast on the local cable company's community channel for students who couldn't make it to class (I lived too far out of town to have cable, so this was not an option). The funny thing was when one of my coworkers told me that she and her husband had watched me on TV the previous night, asking questions about algebraic notation. (I said I get three channels, she get over 100, and she watched MY class instead of something good?)

It's strange that almost twenty years later, I'm reading about the initiatives taken in the 60's that put the television system in place for my class to use in the 90's.

Just another case of "It's a small world."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Lucas Monkeys with the Trilogy Again

(I have to thank my friend Bob for pointing this one out)

With the Blu-Ray release, George Lucas has once again tinkered with the original Star Wars Trilogy. (We don't care what he does with I-III, because it's all Jar Jar's fault, anyway). From the Greedo shot first garbage, to the superimposing of Hayden Christiansen's face at the end of the last movie, George needs to just say no to changes. Besides, if it's a young Anakin, shouldn't that been young Obi-Wan and a young Yoda next to him?

Anyway, drum roll please, because...

Alderaan Shot First!

Cat Farts

Are just as obnoxious as dog farts. In case you were wondering, wonder no more.

Hey, you're not paying for insightful and intelligent posts, this is what you get tonight. Besides, I need to evacuate the area...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Clarity and Confusion

In pursuing the doctoral studies, I knew that there were three possible avenues towards the research I wish to explore: Instructional Technology, Special Education or Educational Psychology. There are benefits to each path, and ultimately, I will have a doctorate in one discipline with a cognate in a second, so two of the three will be covered at minimum by the time I successfully defend my dissertation.

However, last fall, I asked two professors who are psychologists what they would do if faced with this dilemma and both asked the same question "which will be more beneficial to have in your defense arguments, the psychological underpinnings or the pedagogical value of the technology?" When I took time to think about it, the answer became clearer, that I should follow the Instructional Technology path.

Once in the master's program, I realized that the cognate should be educational psychology, though I am still debating trying to squeeze in a graduate certificate in Autism. Blame that on my desire to be as informed as possible when I walk into that committee meeting in a few years.

Anway, today, I took the first step in the application process with a school that, if I am accepted, will take me down an alternate path. The reason for contacting them is that my doctor's mom is faculty at their program for children with disabilities and she focuses on technology interventions.

It was a very productive conversation, one in which I felt like I was talking with a mentor who respected my point of view and wanted to guide me into the best situation to accomplish what I am interested in achieving. She provided many resources in the field whose research (at her school) would help me indirectly in my own research.

I'd sent her an inquiry email that explained what I wish to do and asked if this would fit in with their objectives last month. Today, she asked if she could forward it on to the colleagues that she thinks would be interested in working with me. Most definitely, I responded. At the very least, I'll make some connections that will forward on information they think is relevant to my studies.

Interestingly, she asked if I'd considered another program outside of USF-the one I actually have at the top of my list if I were to leave the state. I mentioned that the program only accepts 3 students a year. She asked if I'd already contacted the director, which I have and received an email response. Then she urged me to pick up the phone and call him (he offered his number for questions), because they're another program that she thinks is a good fit with my ideas. I also mentioned the other main contender as a possibility. She doesn't know anyone there, but expressed approval at the choice.

So, I know what will happen if I apply to midwest University and what I need to do. The confusion lies in the fact that I thought that one path was the best way to go, but the alternative may be just as fruitful.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

CND Shellac's Purple Purple

As far as the new CND Shellac colors go, I'm really happy. Many more people commented on the Black Pool/Iced Coral combo that gave me Bulls Green nails for back to school, but I got quite a few comments about how pretty the Hotski to Tchotcke looked.

Personally, it was my favorite color yet. The fact that I wore several shirts in the two weeks that matched my nails nearly perfectly kind of bears out how much I love blue and teal things.
So, my first look at the Purple Purple on all the websites was "that's nice, but not nearly as nice as that teal."

Then Katie showed it to me when I got my nails done last time. It has an iridescent sheen that doesn't really show up in the photographs I've seen. After seeing the color as it comes out of the bottle, I knew it would be today's choice. And wow, does it stand out.

In an awesome, my nails look like they've got liquid neon painted on them way. It's not super dark, more like a plum, but it stands out under the fluorescent work lights and in sunlight. The home picture doesn't show that up-but it does give you a good idea about the metallic effect.

I'll do my best to get some pictures up the nails in sunlight and see if the glowing purple can be captured in a digital image. If I did pedicures, this one would be the first choice for the toenails.

Don't expect me to put that boring gray cement color on my nails, though. I really like what CND does with this Shellac line (and how much healthier my nails look when we take an old manicure off), but that color is just too boring for this technicolor world.

I'm thinking I'm going for Black Pool with Negligee over it for a nice cobalt blue...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Presentation Makes a Difference

My Waterloo class from the summer semester, Web Programming, is identical in structure to the fall semester. Other the fact that the course is spread out over 15 weeks instead of compressed into ten, there are big differences in how the class is delivered.

For one, the online class was pretty much independent study. If you didn't catch on, the professor was available to answer questions, but you had to know how to describe your problem. For instance, I did an assignment and the code looked right to me. I went through it line by line and could not find the reason why it was not working.

We were not encouraged to use debuggers or workspaces to complete the work, which as a Mac user, may have lead to my frustration with myself. Even though I'd emailed the professor, asked him to look at my code, explained that I was using Firefox, Safari and Chrome to review the code I'd written in text edit, I got an email back that my code looked fine, with no coaching.

Instead, this time around, I've got a professor who is assisted by an expert programmer. They balance each other very well, with the veteran professor guiding the programmer in the ways of teaching, and the programmer providing the technical expertise needed for students to learn JavaScript.

Thanks to the information that has been given, I have tools for Mac that have made things a lot easier. I have to turn in an assignment tomorrow. It's not completely done, but I'm not all that worried about it. It's about 80% done, with an input box left to put in and uploading to the school's website.

I was short of panic attacks in June, because I really thought I'd made the wrong choice in major, especially if I couldn't program web pages. Now? I'm relaxed enough that I'm not stressing about this work, because the knowledge is there and I have the skills. They were there all the time, but I didn't realize it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Research Pays

I contacted four of the five contenders besides my current university, seeking information beyond what is posted on their (fairly comprehensive) websites. My main concern is that the cognate areas I want to cover will work together, and whether I am barking up the wrong tree as far as their focus.

Since Saturday, I've had email exchanges with three of them and have a phone appointment for one on Friday. It's been rather pleasant to discuss possibilities and know that the ideas I have are considered worthy of empirical research by more professionals in the field than the faculty I'm currently studying with.

Even if I stay right where I am, it's good to reach out and make contact with others in the field. One never knows when it will come in handy later, especially since the published articles that they've written are so interesting.

It would feel pretty cool if ten years from now, a prospective doctoral candidate felt the same after emailing me based on my published works. :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Magazine Collection, Let Me Show You

All but two of the magazines that someone ordered for my family are shown below. I couldn't find Guitar World, but a salesperson told me they were sold out. I was tired of looking, so I didn't track down Harper's Bazaar.

Yep, 15 magazines, and new invoices every day. It is getting freaking old, especially since these choices are just so weird.

Anyone who has ever met the four of us knows that the teen and pre teen could care less about fashion.

Same goes for me, I mean, seriously? I wear Crocs!

Look at this guy, then look at the picture of me at the top of this page. Really, does this look like something I would aspire to? (I like six packs of Shock Top, not muscles)
Retch, cough, puke. I'm thinking that this magazine is Home Interiors on steroids. Blech.
I have a Shape, it is round. Most of the effort required to get a similar shape to the cover model would put me in serious Chiari pain and a possible trip to Hawaii for that leg surgery.
When I found out about this one today, I commented that the jerk who has been ordering these magazines does not realize that my temper is its own special weapon.
No, Ed just got a Harley, he does NOT need to look at cars.
Me? Field and Stream? Are you barking mad?
Once again, me? I repeat, I WEAR CROCS.
Ed said he'd love to get bikini clad Danica Patrick pictures, but I told him he can go on their website and get the cheap thrills without rotting brain cells.
Sculpt my perfect six pack? I already said I like Shock Top!
The only magazine out of the fifteen that even made the slightest sense.

So, now I've wasted about four hours canceling magazines. When Chef needed new sneakers, we went to the other side of town to Famous Footwear and the lone bookstore in our county (and they're proud that they're the only one-not thinking about what it says about our literacy rates). All 15 magazines can be purchased here.

Considering that the feedback is that they've received blown in cards to order the subscriptions, I'm thinking someone just walked from one end of the 100' magazine wall to the other, grabbing most of these because they were in the front.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nose to the Grindstone

This weekend has been full of study time. Since we'd been on vacation, my efforts had been focused on the GRE, so the weekend following it I was just spent and didn't put in the usual 8 or 9 hours each day to keep on top of things.

Fortunately, though, one project is due this week that is about 80% done. I'm just twenty pages shy of having Tuesday's reading done (and the homework is relatively easy, I just need to find a way to make a flowchart in PowerPoint) and the web based class is behind, but not to excess. By Friday, I'll be up to date on everything-all readings, all assignments.

It's been a while since I have been able to say that, and it'll be a good feeling to finally be ahead of the game. Once I'm ahead, then I will focus on things like personal mission statements, a school resume, reference letters and all that fun stuff.

While I feel pressure to get it all done, it's not an anxiety looming over me. More like, "you're SO close, let's get this stuff done already!"

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Honing Those Research Skills

Six contenders.

I contacted four of the schools on my short list today, and have plans to talk to one of my doctor's mom next week. (When I went in for an annual visit, he'd mentioned I should contact her, because her school has the program. They do-and the research population I need.) She responded to my email within the hour, which is much better than the non-response from the inquiry to the program director last month.

While I didn't expect a prompt response from anyone, and was pleased at the one I got, I did some important research. What kind of expenses are covered, what courses are included in their programs (I'd scanned earlier, but this was more comprehensive), what do they need in their application packet, when it is due, and what GRE scores are acceptable.

The scores listed all were lower than the low range of my GRE 'score' on the old scale, so that's good. The application packets all want two or three references and a sample of writing, either a published article or graduate level paper. Believe it or not, I've only got three of those to choose from, so it narrows things down. Two of the six do not ask for recommendation letters, but two want three letters and the rest want two.

The earliest deadline in December 1st, the last February 15th. My goal is to have all of them out Thanksgiving week.

Then I dug a little deeper, looking at the vitaes of professors, sussing out the research they've done and what curriculum area piques their interest. No one has combined instructional technology and special education or Aspergers. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it means I will not have a mentor who is familiar with both. I can always have a co-chaired committee, but it's good to know going in that I'll have to do the same research in the psychology and special education departments of each school to look for that second mentor.

Tonight, Ed and I went out to dinner with Chef and spoke with him about where things stand. His first choice was in Virginia, just based on his wants. We explained that it all hinges on how much it will cost to live where we go, whether his brother has services in place and what kind of money will be stipended.

As is typical, I have a spreadsheet running of everything I need.

It's strange to be looking, because I really like where I'm at, the faculty challenges us at the Master's level, they ask questions that don't have simple answers. They added the Autism graduate certificate, so I know I can add a dissertation committee member who can be a huge resource on the needs of that student population.

At the same time, I know I owe it to myself to see what else is out there, to see if my research is something that another school will say "We've wanted to do something along these lines, but we didn't have a passionate candidate." I won't know unless I seek them out-and that was the purpose of today's research expedition.

Usually, I'm up for moving, trying something new, going someplace different. Yet, deep down, I know that we probably aren't moving-and that's a good thing.

Friday, September 09, 2011


Immaturity has reared it's ugly head around here.

The other night, I returned home from class and found invoices for four magazines, selections for Ed, me and Game Teen. None of them were ordered by us and the choices were head scratchers. Details for Game Teen, when he doesn't have much cognizance of music and movies that would interest his peers, a gym rat tome for me, Guitar World (for me) and Men's Health for Ed. He's a big guy, and that was just not a right fight, even if he'd set out to get magazines. He hadn't.

So, he set about cancel these choices via emails. He got responses back that two more magazines had been ordered for Game Teen: Vogue and Teen Vogue. Okay, this is not funny, the child on the autism spectrum is being sent these?

Today, a response from the company that I'd contacted to cancel a magazine to find that Shape had been ordered for me and another magazine for Ed. And then a Fine Cooking magazine showed up for Chef. (Why does he get the one that makes sense?). I'm wondering what tomorrow's mail will bring, and not in that excited, maybe something good will be in it feeling you get when you're a kid.

It's not funny.

The person who thought it was funny is in for a rude awakening. It's mail fraud, and I contacted the Postal Investigator's office about it today. They were not amused, either. In fact, they take it pretty seriously.

Whoever did it did not consider that when I am pissed off, I do not back away from the problem. It will suck for them when they're facing federal investigators, trying to explain what exactly is funny about filing someone's mailbox with a bunch of magazines they didn't order and checking 'bill me later' boxes on each of them.

I have a feeling that this is not the end of the magazine situation. All I can think is that if the person thought it'd be funny to send my 12 and 15 year old kids porno mags, they'll be moved into another class of offender. And when they're caught, I'll be the one laughing...

***9/10/11 Today's mail brought five more invoices, one for the Fine Cooking magazine Chef has received, Two for Ed: Maxim and Motor Trend and two for me:Field and Stream and Romantic Country. In my digging online, I've found that we can file civil suits, that invoices totaling more than $300 combined in Florida constitutes grand theft and that sometimes, the perpetrators face charges from both local and federal authorities.

Another friend pointed me towards information from a study that states this time of crime is overwhelmingly committed by women. That leaves out my long-shot, who didn't have my address or my kid's names. I do have a likely person, but we'll wait to see what else the mail brings.

All I know is that the person who did this can't undo it, and if they're reading all the details here or on Facebook, I hope they realize that I am not joking when I say I will pursue this through as far as is needed.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Recipe, S'il Vous Plait (RSVP)-Marinara Sauce and Baked Ziti

Do you have recipes that you've made for so long that you don't even think about the process, you just do them? Then someone asks you for the recipe and you have to think about measurements and steps and you respond 'Oh, that's an easy one, seriously, anyone can do it.' Except that they can't, because it's not something they do with regularity.

It's like that for me and most Italian dishes, because I grew up watching mom and well, we're coming up on 34 or 35 years that I've been making some of these things. Which is probably why I made Baked Ziti for my class 'snack' the other night. It's quick (relatively), it's easy and it feeds a lot of people for next to nothing.

First, the marinara. I know I've said it before, but I can't remember if I did on MomDot or here that each of my siblings has their own take on my mom's basic marinara recipe. The trick to a good marinara is to let it cook on low heat for a loooooooong time. For instance, the batch that went into this was heated on the smallest of the three rings of my stovetop, on low, for almost 24 hours. If you don't want to leave the stove on, after you've done the initial boil, you can switch it to a crock pot-that will work just as well.

Marinara Sauce
One large can of crushed tomatoes - I used the Angela Mia brand from Sam's this time. It's 108 ounces, if you want to add up smaller cans.
1/3 cup olive oil
2 sweet onions, sliced thin, then chopped up.
2 peppers, sliced thin, then chopped up (this is optional)
1/4 cup dried basil (yes, you read that right)
3 tablespoons garlic (this batch only had garlic powder because I ran out of fresh-either works)
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons Italian spice blend

Now, these are not exact measurements, so don't worry if you put too much of one thing and not enough of another. If you don't like a spice, leave it out. If you like another (for instance, thyme goes great with tomatoes), by all means, put it in. This is why my family has eight kids and eight different variations on a theme.

Chop up your veggies. If I'm feeling generous, I'll dice up some mushrooms and put them in, too, but that's your choice. Place the olive oil in a LARGE dutch oven or sauce pot, turn the heat to medium and then add the veggies and your spices and mix well. If you're using fresh garlic, wait until the onions are translucent, then add it and the can of tomatoes.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for an hour. If you want to swap to a crock pot, this is the time to do it. Either way, you want to put the sauce on the lowest setting your stovetop will do. If you're like me and have a graduated burner ceramic cooktop, use the smallest setting on the three ring burner. If your stove doesn't, then place the pot on the smallest burner on the lowest setting.

Cook for a minimum of 8 hours. I've been known to simmer sauce for about 24 hours and that's when the flavors become deep and complex. Plus the house smells like my mom's did and that's the best food of love memory a girl can have.

So, now that you have marinara for many meals, what are you going to make? Baked Ziti for a dozen! (or 20, if everyone is being polite and having dainty portions). Actually, it's rigatoni noodles, but no one understands Baked Rigatoni.

Baked Ziti
2 pkgs (16 oz) Rigatoni noodles, cooked and drained
1 small container (~15 ounces) Ricotta cheese
1 cup (8 oz) shredded mozzarella or pizza blend cheese
6 cups marinara sauce (recipe above)

In a very large bowl, combine these four ingredients, then place Ziti in a 13x9 pan and bake at 350〫for 30 minutes OR place in a 4.5 quart crock pot and cook on low for one hour. If you don't want leftovers, just halve the recipe.


Give and Take

The dance of a long time married couple...

Husband makes queso dip. Brings wife a small ramekin, perfectly sized for her little appetite. Then the tortilla problem arises. The bag of corn chips was not closed properly when someone last partook of it (we'll leave the culprit unnamed, but it's likely to be one of the children).

Wife gets car keys and visits a convenience store, because this is fresh queso dip, people! We NEED tortilla chips! Queso crisis averted.

Bonus: Wife grabs a six pack while she's at it, because queso, chips and beer are like peanut butter and jelly.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Ruining a Good Thing

If you saw my post from yesterday, you probably wondered whether I'd forgotten what paragraphs are.

I didn't. Blogger did.

At their urging, I went into the new Blogger interface and typed a post. As the hour was late and I had schoolwork to do, I didn't review my posted content. This evening, I was surprised to find one big block o'text where my short paragraphs were in my text entry window yesterday.

It appears that the new posting box can either be 'compose' or 'html', and Blogger chose to default to HTML. Which is fine IF THEY TOLD ME ABOUT IT FIRST!!!


I know, I'm not prone to caps lock, but I dislike when something is defaulted to one different than the previous iteration. Just use the same dang default, or else notify people that the default method of entry has changed. At least I have half a clue about HTML now, which means I can code my posts myself. (but my
in the appropriate places did not take effect, so there are bugs.)

Let's see if this actually posts in the manner I've written it, since I toggled over to the 'compose' side...

Monday, September 05, 2011


I've spent the weekend grilling and the fruits of my labor are pretty darn good.

So why is it that the kids asked for Burger King for dinner? (In a word-yuck!) Of all the fast food chains, they've got a hankering for the one I don't like, probably because early in my pregnancy with Chef, it was the only fast food place on my side of one of the five largest malls in the US. I had way too many Whopper juniors on my half hour lunch break.

Someday, they'll be responsible for their own meals and miss the days when mom has things like pulled pork and pig pucker sauce in the fridge. It'll sound better than those BK burgers...

***and I think I HATE the new Blogger posting interface. My paragraphs became one big text block. Adding HTML coding to hopefully fix it.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Summer's End

Ed had been bugging me to move to Florida for several years before I finally agreed to the concept, and it was the words of a coworker that tipped the scales in favor of moving. She said "you stay inside four or five months of the year up here, right?" and I admitted that yes, from November until the beginning of March, I'm holed up in the house, trying to keep warm. "Well, just shift the time you're indoors and Florida is pretty much the same as living in Maryland."

She was right.

So, while others lament the end of summer, because the nights are shorter, the nights are colder and it's too cold to swim, I look forward to it. The windows get opened, the sun roof gets used and we spend many an evening on the lanai.

Yes, the nights are shorter, and I do enjoy having daylight until 8. However, if the longer nights mean temperate weather, I'm all for it.

Bye bye, Summer. You've been nice, but I've always liked Fall best.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

One Search, Two Benefits

I've spent most of the day looking at doctoral programs, because, well, now I have a rough idea that I'm one standard deviation above the mean (maybe 1.5 above), perhaps some of these schools might actually pay me a decent amount of money to study there, be a TA and then do research.

As a slacker student in high school, the concept that I will apply to these schools and likely get offers is just amazing. My grades are good, better than good, my test scores are pretty darn good and the one thing I excel at is what my advising professor tells me is the tie breaker when all other factors are equal.

I didn't want to get too far into researching programs before getting that GRE out of the way for fear that I'd find a program that fulfills my needs (Instructional Technology and Psychology), fall in love with it and fall short on the GRE score. I have yet to find a program that states their baseline GRE is higher than the lowest mine could possibly be.

So, I spent today looking. The benefit of this searching is that it also helps me fulfill a class assignment, too. I have to look at our Ph.D website and compare it to another school's site, then offer improvements for both that incorporate several instructional design principles.

I'm good on that front for the classwork, and I found four other schools I am definitely applying to, and one that is on the list for an Autism program they have more than for their Instructional Technology program.

It feels pretty good that I'm not approaching this from the mindset of 'whoever will take me,' like I did when I started college, but rather from 'I have a lot to offer, who wants to take a research journey with me in an unexplored area?'

Only time will tell.

Friday, September 02, 2011

CND Shellac's Hotski to Tchotcke

At the beginning of the year, CND announced the Shellac line would have 50 colors to choose from by year's end. The palette last month had a whopping 18, with 6 more announced to launch in September. When I saw them pictured on another blog, I saw two colors that called out to me.

In a bit of a surprise, my lovely nail tech Katie emailed me a picture a few days ago of five of the six new colors, a full three weeks before the scheduled launch date. I'm wondering if the announcement that OPI is coming out with a full palette of UV gel colors has motivated CND to launch the new Shellac colors early. In any event, I was pretty sure that the new teal color, Hotski to Tchotchke was going to be on my nails as soon as it came out.

I have to say, I wavered for a moment when Katie showed me the purple. It's vibrant, it's iridescent and it definitely has pizzazz. Ultimately, though, my love of all things blue and aqua won out and this is what my nails looked like immediately after they were done:

It goes on sheer, so that's three coats, but I love this color. I'm so glad that the days of only wearing reds, corals, nudes or pinks are gone.

When I took pictures out in the sunlight later, the color and metal flake really stood out. Take a look:

(Disregard the shredded finger, a remnant of my stressing over that GRE!)

I got many compliments over the green I did for back to school, which was black pool topped with iced coral, but I suspect when the two weeks are up, this one will get more raves.

Keep the cool colors coming, CND, because I'll be happy to sport them!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

One Step Closer

Despite not spending enough time preparing for it, I did the endurance marathon known as the Graduate Record Examination this morning and walked out with a 'range' of my potential scores. Suffice to say, even if I only achieved the bottom of both scores, they still exceed the minimums needed to be accepted to my doctoral program.


In a sense, I was holding my breath, wondering if I am good enough, if I have what it takes. The GRE is a snapshot of one day when presented with questions I've never seen, my answers will tell whether I have the skills to continue advanced studies.

Yes, I know it sounds strange when a third semester graduate student is wondering this, but a doctoral program requires so much more. The same skills, yes, but also the ability to look at an issue, analyze it and hypothesize a solution. I think I've got it, but me saying I do isn't enough. Now, I have test scores that say that I can handle the course work.

Me being me, instead of relaxing, the thought process was "what do I do NOW?" So, I visited the program coordinator, who congratulated me. We talked for a bit and she told me to speak to Dr. S, who just happens to be my professor for two of three classes this semester.

He and I spent a good twenty minutes after class tonight talking about what I need to do to get my application packet ready. I wanted to know what recommendation letters are preferred and what else I can do to. Writing is a skill he stressed over and over, then a classmate who was with me in the spring said "She writes a blog, of course she's a writer!" We discussed the writing I do and he suggested adding writing samples to the packet.

Next on tap is to assist a professor doing research, which he suggests doing in the spring. He even said he'd write a recommendation based on my performance in the two classes this semester. This seems strange, because he is the advisor, but I'll take that letter, thank you very much.

It's a pretty good feeling to know my ducks are in a row and I'm popping them off one by one...