Tuesday, April 30, 2013

$250 Later

I have three textbooks for the summer.

One class requires two textbooks, one I rented and the other I purchased. The class will cover two topics that are near and dear to doctoral students: grant writing and dissertation proposals. By the end of the semester, the professor expects us to have written a real or mock grant and have a strong dissertation proposal draft. My soon-to-be major professor was concerned that I'm taking the class now, explaining that it's better to take at the end of the classroom study. However, there have been no guides to the order of courses in either my master's or Ph.D studies, so I opted for my usual method of getting the tough stuff out of the way first.

The other class is in my cognate. I've had several appointments scheduled with my supervising professor for that program, but we keep having to reschedule. I'd like to get in to see her before I schedule more courses in that concentration, because I have two options to follow. The class I start in two weeks is a requirement for either if I were getting a Master's, which is how we're supposed to model the cognate studies. You take master's level courses in that content, and doctoral level in the major.

What is cool is that a coworker is taking the same two courses, so we'll either be cheering our choices or commiserating if the workload gets to be too much. Those two books are not small! At least the cognate area text is written by an author I've picked up before, but not a textbook. Her writing style is precise, but not dry, so I'm thinking I will not fall asleep reading the text.

While many undergrads are finding their texts in digital form, that doesn't seem to be happening much with graduate courses. It's a shame, there's plenty of room on the iPad for all the books...

Monday, April 29, 2013

Two Naps, Two Days

Yes, it must be semester break!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Two Semesters Down

Approximately 10 semesters left to go!

I've said to several people that this semester's group was the best experience I have ever had. We all played to a strength, which for me was a little strange because I didn't do most of the writing. Instead, I went for the video production, which is a lot of fun.
The work was mostly completed, except for the final paper. One of my group mates has been awesome at keeping on top of it throughout the semester and another is a strong writer. All I had to contribute was one component, a summary of our research methodology and the processes we used in designing the product.

The group met online together in a Google doc (which we've done several times in the past, but during the class session). In two hours, I wrote my section while others tweaked theirs, we used Google chat to confer with each other as a group and decided that we were DONE for the semester. It was kind of cool to have the semester wrap up as a group, a first for me.

If the opportunity came about to work with these five people again, I would do it without hesitation. Each brought something to the table with no drama.

Based on where I stand right now, taking two classes a semester, I have ten to go. It is truly a marathon, as one of my professor frequently states. If they are like this one, it'll be a lot of work at a decent pace, one that is definitely manageable.

Other than the one group mate who graduates Saturday, I wonder if I'll be able to recruit one or more of them into another group project?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Kinetic Typography

I've always been amazed at what some people can do with kinetic typography for songs. Someday, when I have free time...

In the meantime, I found this one from a guy who made it for his Graphic Design class, and enjoyed it:


Friday, April 26, 2013

Lefties Unite!

This afternoon, a few of my coworkers and I were kibbitzing when I returned from lunch. One is expecting, so the conversation involved talking about what the baby will inherit from mom or dad's gene pool.

Then, we found out that we are all lefties.

Usually, I'm the rare one. Here, I'm just another person in their right mind!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Afternoon Naps

Thanks to my erratic sleep lately (thanks, clots and RSD), there have been a few times where I've come home from work and taken a nap to be able to tackle the schoolwork for that evening.

Once, that meant a 4 hour nap, and I ended up staying up until 3am, but I was fine the next day. Today, I got home and found Ed here because he'd had a migraine. I mentioned I was taking a nap and about an hour and a half later, he came in to wake me.

Daylight savings time got me-I thought it was the next morning and I was late for work!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Being Good at One Thing Doesn't Mean You're Good at Everything

I have a few friends who are mildly stressed out right now. Seems their boss came to them with a proposal, somewhat pie in the sky. "Hey, can you draft up something concrete for this idea I have? I'll come back to you in two weeks and we'll discuss." Mind you, this is beyond the scope of what they had to do during the normal work day-that is already full with other things that take priority.

That was in early January. Several attempts to meet up with the boss to specifically talk about this proposal got canceled by the boss. Meanwhile, the friends spent about 15-20 hours of their own time coming up with realistic scenarios and solutions to this proposal. So, they were definitely invested in rolling the project out.

It is now the end of April. No meeting, no nothing.

Meanwhile, boss shares with clients via email and other means "Hey, we're doing this great, pie in the sky idea starting in June. Sign up now!" Well, because they got no feedback on their project plan, nor were they told to go ahead with this as if it were a done deal-it's just a five page proposal. Materials need to be acquired, things need to be prepared.

This is typical for the boss. Swoop and poop out an idea, never speak of it again, and then months later-'why aren't we doing this?' Well, because you haven't allocated time to do it, or funds to put these ideas into action. It's the Peter principle in real life-the boss was great at what they do, but isn't so good at leading others in doing it effectively.

They're all getting resumes ready and are seeking other jobs. One has the line on something really good, too. It would be rather ironic to tell the clients that something is going to happen in June and all the people who did their own research that got ignored will probably be gone!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Music to Study (or Read Instructional Guides) By

I like to put music on and repeat it over and over when I'm trying to focus on a task. Thus, my iTunes playlist is stacked with things that peg me as a choir and music geek. Want to take a listen?






Monday, April 22, 2013

Steak Salad at Dave and Buster's

If you're planning on following responsible caloric intake when you're at Dave and Busters, the pickings are slim. However, I ended up with a favorite:



We were celebrating GameTeen's birthday, and he went for what I would have ordered in an earlier time, the Goldfingers. It wasn't worth 1,400 calories, though!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

CND Shellac Tutti Frutti plus Purple Effects

I'm a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world...

At least that's the way I feel, every time I look at my nails. The color looks really good, but it really is NOT me at all. I liked the way it looked on Katie's toes, and well, after the fantastic job she did on my nails with Azure Wish and the glitter Effects, I had not a clue of what I wanted this time.

This is what I have now:

What I did not consider is the items in my wardrobe that aren't in the blue/green/purple palette. I went to put on a red shirt today and it clashed. Then a salmon colored shirt and the same deal. Soooo, the next three weeks will be spent planning ahead, instead of grabbing the top shirt of the pile when I get dressed in the morning!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Record Store Day



Billy and Bobby Alessi, also known as Barnaby Bye, a Long Island act...



Ed and Chef among the records. Ed scored a half-dozen albums on his very long 'seek and acquire list'.



The decor at our local record store



Friday, April 19, 2013

Things You'll Want When You're Presenting At An Academic Conference

Well, the first one is under my belt! The poster presentation was a lot busier, but there was a lot of good interaction with the people who were there.

So, the things that make things run smoothly?

Print out your materials ahead of time.
(I did this, but my professor made some last minute modifications, so we had to print out new slide outlines.)

Make sure you have all that you need to hook up to the AV equipment on site. Unless you're presenting at Apple, this means you want an Apple A/V dongle for your iPad or your MacBook.


Oh, speaking of-the Apple remote does not work with a MacAir, but it does with a MacBook Pro. However, I don't like to stand behind a podium, so I'll be getting one of these before I present again.



Another thing that a group mate suggested is a power strip with a long cord. I have the one pictured for my light kit, but if you have electronics to support your display, do NOT assume that the power outlet is near your booth/table!


Meanwhile, I have this for travel, but it may be a good idea if you're in sessions all day and need to keep that iPad charged- a Trent external battery pack.



Oh and for your poster displays, having this in your bag can be quite handy, too. Let's just say that I have it for die cuts and it hasn't left my bag yet, which came in handy for affixing our poster to a presentation display.



So, if you're the TSA person scanning my checked bag when I take this presentation on the road (as my professor urges us to do with this one), these things are important to make sure my presentation goes well!

And all I was missing today was the dongle, which I quickly secured from our tech people. :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

One Down, One To Go

I had the final in my Stats class tonight. It was a first for me since I've returned to college-I walked out knowing that I probably have a C in the course. It's what I deserve, I didn't put the effort into it that it deserves. The content wasn't difficult, but it's a logic language that I should have looked more often than I did.

On the other hand, the class in my course of study is going phenomenal. My group has wrapped up our A, I present at a conference in the morning all about it, and our work is being turned in a full week early. I just have three videos to complete between now and then, which is easy stuff for me.

It's good that we're getting this semester done early, it gives me a three week break before it starts all over again. I'm looking forward to some downtime!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Flash Mob!



Alas, as soon as they're done, I want to launch into the tenor line of 'Fortuna Plango Vulnera'!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Plan for the iPad Comes to Fruition

When we got Ed his iPad nearly two years ago, I wouldn't touch it, lest I get the gimmes. Awesome husband that he is, though, he asked me what I wanted for my birthday a few months later and without hesitation, I asked for my own iPad.

Mine gets used more by the kids than me, but that doesn't mean I don't use it. I have textbooks, journal articles and a few fun things for me. (I prefer playing Song Pop on it, over the computer or phone). While teaching, it was used to occupy one student who wasn't keeping up with his peers in the computer class, and another student who couldn't use the computers because they triggered seizures.

When I asked for it, I told Ed that there would come a time when I'd need to develop content on it. It wouldn't be right away, but eventually, the materials I created would also be created for iPads. I felt it'd be better if navigating it was second nature, rather than learning a new device and new software.

Today, my stated purpose became reality. One of the colleges I create content for has purchased iPads for all their incoming students, and their content will be delivered on iPads. I need to develop and test on one. My department has one, but I like the idea that I have my own to do this.

Sometimes, I'm right-it just takes a while for things to catch up.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Regression Equations, Oh My

Working on the take home portion of my Stats final tonight. Tomorrow night, my other class, then working on compiling my data from my research for Stats. Hopefully, this leaves all of Wednesday to study the statistical terms I need to know for the in class final Thursday.

If you hear me talk of significance and effect sizes, I'm in the zone. Just walk away until Friday...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Apparently, April Showers Bring Tornadoes

Last year, when I was considering doctoral programs and had a few serious conversations from a school in Tornado Alley, I did not give the school more consideration because tornadoes are the one weather situation I will do my best to consciously avoid. I grew up with blizzards and hurricanes, weather events you know about well in advance and can do *some* amount of preparation for. Yep, earthquakes and tornadoes are things I will try my best to not encounter.

Yet, in the past couple of years, we've had quite a few tornado warnings, had some touch down within five miles of home and generally, because this state is Kansas flat, seem to be in a trend to have them more. Oh, goody.

However, there is something to help prepare and it is one of the BEST apps you can get for you phone. Storm Shield It functions like a weather radio, going off when an alert includes your zip code or general area. You can even set it to the local zip code when you're traveling, too.

I got it after participating in one our local meteorologist's chat sessions during Tropical Storm Debby last year and am glad I've spent the money each time it goes off. It has gone off while I was teaching classes, while I'm in classes myself, or in the car-situations where I might not be aware of impending severe weather.

So, while I might not like tornadoes, at least I have some warning that the conditions for one are occurring. If you don't have this app on your phone, click that link above and spend the few bucks for piece of mind.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

When Work and School Efforts Help Each Other

If you've attended a college or university in the past ten years, your school uses a Learning Management System (LMS) to house all the course materials, whether your class meets face to face or you take courses completely online. Since returning to school four years ago, I've actually encountered three systems, because the state college used one (PAL), and USF used another (Blackboard), and this semester, one course is in the new LMS, Canvas.

My group project in that class is to create tutorials for the instructors within Canvas, to explain how the new LMS will make their lives easier. Truly, it is a much more user friendly product that what we've used-even we tech savvy students have complained about Blackboard for years. So, since January, we've been learning how to use Canvas and doing tons of research in it to go beyond the traditional 'this is how you do this' experience. Our client wants instructors to know not just how, but WHY this product is a good thing.

For the most part, we jumped on board, my five group mates and me. There are little quirks to Canvas, but we've learned to adapt. For instance, when you're creating a content page, the table tool is very finicky. As a result, we had trouble embedding my videos. Prior to creating the tables, the videos could be resized by the user. Afterwards, the resize button was disabled. This was an issue that several testers had and commented on. We needed to fix this-not only for our project, but to share a work around for the instructors down the road.

This is where work comes in. For the past three weeks, I've been migrating content into Canvas, and getting quite familiar with the navigation. Our professor was rather insistent that this was a big problem and it needed to be fixed. One of my group mates had the answer "just put a statement that it's optimized for Safari in there." Um, no-that is not learner focused. We needed another solution. I suggested creating different content pages for each video, then linking via a hot button. Maybe even a hidden YouTube page, also using a hot button. I knew we could do that, we launch the different modules using that action now.

We had a conference call tonight to figure it out. While in there, I decided to try the one solution. I created a content page, embedded the video, then had each person go launch it.

It worked like a charm.

A month ago, I wouldn't have known this was an option. In less than 5 minutes, I was able to suggest a solution, then jump in and get it to work. Which feels pretty darn awesome.

And that is why I am sitting here now, adding thumbnail images that link to content pages that will later have the videos embedded into them...

Friday, April 12, 2013

Befuddled

Game Teen's school had a fundraiser tonight at a local restaurant. We did not attend. Mind you, my child wanted to go, even tried saying "I am going to the fundraiser" as a means of getting mom or dad to take him.

It was at Chuck E Cheese, home of lousy pizza. Add to that GameTeen's obsession with video games AND his sensory issues with loud noises and bright lights, there is no way in hell I'm subjecting myself to the place.

Which begs the question, if most of the students at the school have sensory issues, and teachers are gently reminded that a loud classroom is not good for the kids, why hold a fundraiser at the place where Dora could be drowned out by the competing sounds?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

When, Not If

Blood Clots. The bane of my existence.

In 2006, my vascular surgeon told me that I was on my last strike-the next one would mean lifetime blood thinners. In my case, that means either Heparin or Lovenox, because I'm one of those freaks who metabolizes Coumadin in a strange way.

Then, right after my hysterectomy in 2009, I got a blood clot-and a pass. We both agreed that my lack of activity post op and the abdominal surgery were responsible for that one. So, I've been on my last strike for over three years.

All things considered, my surgeon is probably stunned that I've gone this long. I moved to Florida with a clot and saw him within a week of moving here permanently. For a long time, I was in his office weekly.

A few weeks ago, I noticed the signs. A warm spot on my leg, the colder of the two (thanks to RSD, my left leg is 10 degrees colder than my right). Pain upon touch, and skin changes. I made a quick call to Nurse M, who agreed.

At that time, there wasn't a pebble like lump. But we knew it was coming. Problem is, there really isn't a way to stop the progress, only slow it down with heat and compression. I was doing the heat part, but compression is rough with RSD. Nurse M suggested a lower weight compression, and I ordered it.

The stocking showed up today, one day after the pebble in my leg appeared. Oh well, we knew this plan wasn't going to turn back the progression.

Sooo, back to blood thinners for me. I'm wondering if this will be my fifth strike and no out...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

So Many Choices

It has been quite some time since I've held a job with benefits. Like, five years ago, in fact.

The thing is, most of my employers in retail gave you one, maybe two options for health insurance. Dental was offered by most, but it was a take it or leave it plan. Vision wasn't covered by all, but I worked for higher end specialty for my last four employers, so it was covered. Heck, it was a big deal that three of them offered chiropractic and extended podiatric care-most retailers didn't.

Now, I'm in a benefited quasi state job, so I get most options through the state, then a few that are unique to my employer. Then a few more because of my employment category. No more 'you're this, so you either get this or that, take it or leave it.' Instead, the majority of the calls I'm getting at work are people who want to help me with my enrollments.

Disability. Cancer plan. Dental-HMO, PPO (tier one or two), or Catastrophic? Retirement. There are more, but I was able to figure out most of it on my own after having to guide others before. The disability rep and I had an online session in which I logged into their website and we shared the screen to do my enrollment. That one is important to me, knowing that I have 'when, not if' surgeries in my future. Fortunately, I was able to tell the rep, this is what I was looking for, this is what I found in your website and I think they're the same. They were.

Today, it was the retirement rep. That one, I was at a total loss as to what I have, because there were three options. It ends up I am eligible for all three. We met at my office and she gave me a brief overview. That was good, my first question was 'vesting?' as means to cut down my choices. I'm not going with a plan that requires me to be there ten years, especially when I don't think we'll be in Florida after I graduate. Another question was portability. Then another was employer contribution trends. All of the questions helped me to rule out one, and of the two remaining, pretty much have one decided.

However, I have 60 days to enroll-and the state legislative session ends a week before that. I think I'll hold off just a little while longer.

But, my phone will probably be ringing to schedule more information sessions between now and then...

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Crunch Week

Graded Homework Assignment

Final Project Proposal

Journal Article Analysis

Take Home Final

In Class Final

Research Project

All due in the next nine days.

Then, in my other class:
six videos

presentation paper

Both due by the 19th, one day after all that other stuff...

Monday, April 08, 2013

Teamwork

I participated in a weight loss challenge at my old job. My team won, and I lost 11 pounds. Our price is a gift certificate for the four of us to go out to dinner together. I'm not sure when or where we'll all get together, but it should be fun.

The upside to a 12 week competition is that I kicked some bad habits. Like soda. I've been really good about drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day.

Im hoping the fact that I'm in the habit of using a website to track my intake will keep me on this good path, now that I don't have a competition to motivate me...

Sunday, April 07, 2013

New Ownership

Our favorite restaurant was sold.

I should have realized, the last three or four times I got pizza for take out, the always present Manuela was not in the kitchen sporting her ubiquitous pink baseball cap. Still, the pizza was as good as always, so I assumed that I was picking up on nights she wasn't there.

The other night, though, my friend Allen suggested Italian for dinner and Romeo's is always my first choice for that. Our server was one I didn't know. He answered my question about Manuela not being in the kitchen with 'Oh, you didn't know? They sold the restaurant a couple of months back.' This was before our entrees arrived, and I said the pizza was just as good. He told us that Manuela and Lino sold the recipes along with the restaurant, so we should expect the same quality food.

He was right. My favorite, Penne alla Russa, was just as creamy as always, the garlic knots left me wanting to lick the plate, and I ordered some desserts to go, just to be sure. As I'd mentioned in my review last year, Manuela could have opened a bakery with her deft hand and NY bakery quality desserts.

Tonight, I had the Lemoncello cake and Ed had one of his favorite jam tarts. They were good.

While I'm bummed that we didn't get to wish these fine people goodbye, I'm glad that the new owners took the quality of the food and the importance of those recipes to the success of the restaurant to heart-and bought them with the name.

Wherever you are, Manuela and Lino, grazi. I hope you enjoy your travels and your return to Italy.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

No, I Don't Have a Favorite Color

It's never more obvious than when I do three weeks worth of my clothing at one time...


Friday, April 05, 2013

CND Shellac Azure Wish with CND Additives

In the time that I wasn't getting my bi-weekly manicures, CND came out with several blue and green shades that I have been working my way through. The last manicure featured Pretty Poison, the one before that Limeade. I just saw a layering of the two that makes a nice Kelly green. That idea is getting tucked away for next St. Patrick's day.

Meanwhile, on the blue front, there was Azure Wish (nice nod to Princess Bride, IMO) and Midnight Swim to try. Fortunately, my nail tech knows my love for the blue, green, and purples, and she stocks them as soon as they come out. This time around, it was Azure Wish, but I mentioned to Katie that I thought it needed a little more pizzazz, like maybe a layer of Zillionaire. This was while texting back and forth to change my appointment time to a day earlier (several clients asked for mani-pedis when they'd just booked the manicures.). She even played around with my layering suggestions on her sample nails and sent me pictures.

When I got there for my appointment, though, the CND effects powders were out from working with the previous client and Katie suggested using one of those. We looked at the white before going for the silver glitter. That combo really appealed and off we went.



Ed says it looks like I'm ready to go clubbing. Not quite, but I love the sparkle the Effects lend to the color. Considering how much blue and teal tops I own, this one will complement what I wear nicely for the next few weeks.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Potluck!

The past few months, I've either gone to get food for my coworkers or cooked for them. This is fine, as I enjoy cooking for others.

However, my new coworkers love to have any excuse for a potluck. For instance, the fact that two of us have joined the staff is the perfect reason for one. So tomorrow, they get strawberry salad.

Looking at the sign up sheet, it appears we are heavy on the desserts. < br />
It's probably a good thing that I'm going for my final weigh in at the old job BEFORE lunch. :)

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Autism Awareness Month


He'll be 17 in two weeks. 


He still behaves like a three year old. 


Like tonight, the second night of him having a 500 page essay for repeatedly sleeping in class.   One he refuses to do.  No matter what I say, yell, take away-he is adamant that he won't do it. 


He refuses to go to bed at night, we could call it 'Song of GameTeen'

"I'm in the middle of a game!  I'm not ready for bed!  I'm not tired!  I hate bedtime!  I'm not sleepy!  You're not being fair!"


Then, he wakes in the middle of the night, and if we're all asleep, he forages for food, hunts out the game systems out of whatever new hiding spot we've found (seriously, we go through hiding spots at a breakneck pace) and then sleeps in class. 

The psychiatrist we got this year is completely ineffective.  He's on the highest dose of melatonin they suggest for ADULTS, a high dose of OCD meds, a high dose of meds for Aspergers, and ADHD meds and she didn't want to give him more sleep medications.  She suggests therapy.  She says to GameTeen "you should do what mom and dad tell you to do" in a friendly, conversational tone. 

She doesn't get it.  This child does not respond to sing song inflection-he walks all over it. 

He's almost 17, it should get better, right? 

Sometimes, it feels like I'm in combat and I'm unarmed.  I can't make headway with this enemy.  Despite knowing what it is and how to deal with it, the knowledge means nothing.  Because what is supposed to work doesn't with my son.  Like right now.

He insists he's tired and needs sleep-just like last night.  Then, he had in school suspension and slept ALL day. 

It's a battle of wills and I'm not strong enough to overcome this daily battle. 

And that is what life with Autism is like. 




Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Tooth Rescue

So, my tooth is salvageable. I got some minor treatment done to it, then a bondo-type substance-and a quote for a crown to top it all off. Ooof, it will be rather expensive.

I drove to the walk in dentist (an hour away) and was patient number 3-when they only take two. The first two were a couple who, between them, had FIVE broken teeth! They'd been trying to be the first two for a week, so this morning, they got there at 6am. Instead, I called around to other places that take emergency patients. One in Brooksville (2 hours away) had an opening. Thankfully, I found one here in town and they could take me in 45 minutes!

As I mentioned yesterday, my dentist in NY was incredible. Any dentist that comes after has big shoes to fill, but the office I went to today had very friendly staff, a great dental assistant and the dentist was rather pleasant. This emergency helped me to find our permanent office, because it felt just right. They are 20 minutes from home-and they do sedation dentistry, which is a must for GameTeen.

Interestingly, they thought I'd be in a ton of pain, but I wasn't. The novocaine shots were minor, and he apologized for what should have been painful, but wasn't. Perhaps the neck pain for years made this seem minor in comparison. We shall see, when I inevitably have dental work down the road.

Monday, April 01, 2013

I Guess 30 Years is Good

For a root canal to last! About half my tooth decided to make a break for it today during my lunch. The sad part is-I didn't even realize it until later!

It has been mentioned here before that my orthodontist kept the same bands on my teeth for six years. Many of my friends were getting theirs taken off for twice yearly cleaning, but mine stayed on through it all. Within days, one tooth disintegrated while eating an ice cream sandwich-a very soft ice cream sandwich at that.

I spent a lot of time in the dentist's chair after those braces came off. Fortunately, Steve was good. Really good at what he did. Long after I moved to Maryland, I made twice yearly trips to my NY dentist, which he used to full advantage when patients would complain about their 10 mile drive. There were quite a few root canals performed between my junior and senior year of high school.

Steve told me a long time ago that the normal root canal shouldn't last as long as mine had-when I had one replaced about 15 years ago. This one went another fifteen beyond that. My dental insurance drought ends May first, so this is probably going to be expensive. I don't think it's salvageable, so it'll probably get yanked tomorrow at the walk-in dentist-and I'll continue to get some recommendations on who to see about getting a crown or implant. Yay.