Sunday, June 30, 2013

Overnight in Daytona

We had a nice brief getaway that I think Ed and I wanted for a long time, but couldn't get over there until the other day.

I think we need another detour over there really soon, because that is one place where I can really veg on a lounge chair all day-when I don't anywhere else.

I think we need a longer weekend before summer is over.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pig Stand, Ormond Beach, Florida

When staying in Daytona, it is a given that we will travel a few exits north on I-95 to Ormond Beach and visit the Pig Stand for some 'cue. We spent the night over on the beach and decided that lunch had to be Pig Stand before we returned home.

Chef was nursing a sore mouth, so he just went with Macs and Cheese, and when GameTeen heard that, he got them, too. Meanwhile, I went for the Burnt End sandwich, a nice pork BBQ that is served naked with slaw on top and a choice of side. Barbeque sauces are on the table, and I opted for a blend of the mustard and hot. Yum. The slaw is a little on the sweeter side, but is crunchy and fresh, in case you prefer tangy slaw.

I will probably skip the corn next time. It seems like frozen ears and no amount of butter, salt and pepper could give it flavor. They make really good, savory beans-I'll go with those next time.

Ed got the Fat Boy with beans. This sandwich comes with lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese and a creamy dressing. Ed was smart, getting those beans.

The set up is that you order your food at the counter, get your own drinks, and the staff brings food out to you. This most recent trip was a little 'off' to us, but I don't know whether it was because we were paying more attention to Chef's dental woes (he had a root canal two days later.) Still, our plans are to head back when we're over there in the fall. It sure beats chain 'que!,

Daytona Pig Stand on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 28, 2013

Comp Time

I am employed in an administrative role, which means there is no overtime. The extra hours I put in this week has been converted into comp time.

As our university president usually is really good with rewarding us with days off here and there, I was hoping for an announcement that since Independence Day is a Thursday, we'd have Friday off, too. Now, I don't have to wait for an announcement. I have a 4.5 day weekend. :)

It will feel really weird on Monday when I don't work at a breakneck pace on a chapter!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Marathon Development Session

In the past three days, I've logged 18 extra hours of work to completely redo the first three chapters of the iBook project. It is now uploading.

While physically and mentally, that pace is brutal, emotionally, I feel elated. The quirks of the iBook Author are known quantities, so I was able to create a chapter from lousy source external source material in 25 hours and then take a chapter that didn't have a powerpoint and a jumbled mess of information and put it into order. The many semesters of being anal retentive about my lecture notes is the primary reason why I put this chapter together in 16 hours.

Now, to go have a beer-I'm wiped out! At least I have a three day weekend to recover-and another 9 hours of comp time (that probably will become 11 once I finesse the upload) to show for it!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

SCOTUS, Thank You!

The decisions out of the Supreme Court the past week have been very frustrating, which didn't bode well for DOMA and Prop 8, in my opinion. Then, last night, I read an article that quoted Justice Antonin Scalia that implied that he was *not happy* with the decisions handed down on these two basic rights cases.

The fact that the court ruled to overturn DOMA and upheld the lower court decision to overturn Prop 8 just reaffirms what Thomas Jefferson stated in our Declaration of Independence "“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." We can say that every man and woman in our nation can pursue happiness with the person they love by their side. This makes me happy.

This makes ME happy.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Cardinal Sins of Power Point Presentations

If I didn't learn anything else in the past four years (and 2.2 degrees), I have become a power user of Power Point. Prior to school, I had absolutely no need to learn how to use this product, even though I was a long time power user of Word and Excel. Want a pivot table? I'm your woman. However, as a hard core user of it, I see a lot of mistakes in other presentations that can be avoided.

My current work project involves taking presentations and crafting iBook chapters from the information contained in those Power Point slides. While the professor I'm working with doesn't need to be an expert user, she's got much of it right. However, I have to create a chapter from Power Point slides from an agency she partnered with and these things are making me cross eyed at the many things that violate design principles, as well as basic pedagogy. The most grievous sin is how disorganized the whole thing is. So, thanks to this lovely thing that I will convert into a pretty chapter by Thursday afternoon (and lots of overtime), I present to you the cardinal sins of Power Point and how you can fix them!

Power Point Sin #1 --The Wall of Text

Have you ever been handed a document, a flyer, or ever looked at an advertisement and you couldn't focus because there was TOO much information crowded into the allotted space? Power Point slides are exactly the same-you turn off your audience when they are struggling to read the information while you're presenting.

The key here is LESS is MORE! No more than six lines or bullet points, highlighting the key things you want your audience to remember, because they're not going to remember 200 words in a really small font (done so you could fit it all in). My personal rule of thumb is that if I can't read through it in 30 seconds, it needs to be edited down. Save the novel for the printed page.

Power Point Sin #2 --What Does This Have to Do With the Last Slide?

Remember in third grade how you were told to create a paragraph by making a topic sentence, the a few supporting sentences, and then a conclusion? Then the following year, you learned how to build essays in a similar manner? Your Power Point should be no different. Group all your relevant information together. For example, if you're giving examples for discussion, place ALL the information together, rather than scattering it over 20 slides. If you don't, you confuse your audience and they lose interest.

Power Point Sin #3 --Get the FAQ, PDQ or Your Audience Will Be Thinking WTH?

As I said, the Power Point that I'm using as a guide is from a government agency, and it is full of acronyms and jargon. I could figure out some of it, but there are two acronyms that not even Google could find. When I searched what I suspected was the translation, guess what? It wasn't! Now, I'm pretty adept with medical terminology, but this was really out there.

Assume your audience knows NOTHING about the topic you're presenting, unless you know for a fact that this is an in-house thing that your colleagues will view. This means that the first time you use an acronym, spell it out and put the letters after it. If you use the term dinglehopper, know that if I don't do your job every day, I don't know what a dinglehopper is. (What is worse is that the agency has the same acronyms and jargon on their website without explanation there, either!

Power Point Sin #4 --Pictures are Nice, But...

Graphics are a great way to promote understanding, but like the text, less is more. If you start with photographs, continue with photographs-don't mix your image types and you'll look more polished and authoritative.

Power Point Sin #5 --But it Looked Good on Miami Vice!

Pink and Aqua are both nice colors, but trying to read pink text can be difficult-especially on an aqua background! If you plan on sharing your Power Point, consider that your audience may be printing the slides for reference, but on black printers. Also consider that when you're presenting, some audience members may be colorblind and not see part of your slides. I printed out my slides today so I could make notes and well, I have about ten slides that are missing some information because the grayscale was too close on the text and background.

Preview your presentation to make sure that the background isn't the same color as the text and that it all fits on the page. If you avoid sin #1, this would not be an issue. Let's just say that if the person who put together the presentation I'm working on had followed those two things, I would have found the meaning of that acronym from Sin #3!

There are other things you can do to make your PowerPoint look professional, but following these five guidelines will make your audience happy, instead of frustrated!

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Friends in the Computer

I have a lot of friends in the computer. Part of it is from being an early adopter of the pre-WWW Prodigy (aka *P), CompuServe, bulletin boards, and the like. In my Facebook friends list, I have a few friends who date back to online friendships made as early as 1993. If only I can find the two really good *P friends, I'd go back to '91. However, the vast majority of these online friends were made about ten years ago.

Still, thanks to the computer, I got back in touch with people from high school, a few here, a few there. People I really enjoyed hanging around with back then, but never got to know outside of school. Enter Facebook and a mutual friend or three (or 15!) and the next thing you know, you're interacting regularly and realizing 'holy crap, I had no idea how much we actually had in common besides growing up in the same town.' Let's just say that my brand of humor is appreciated by a lot of those people.

Recently, one posted a song by an artist, Tim Minchin. I'd never heard of the man, the title struck me and I clicked the link and laughed my ass off for several minutes. It was cutting, intellectual, and so raucously filthy that I was hooked. I thanked the friend and then he shared the name of the other song he wanted to post, but didn't because he was sure it would offend. Well, I have to agree, but I loved that one, too.

Since last week, I think I have listened to everything Tim Minchin you can find on YouTube, a few many times. I have the refrain of one of the songs running through my head at least once a day and because I can picture Ed singing the same lines, it cracks me up. However, for all the stuff that I love and many would find offensive, the man has a gift for some very sensitive serious songs, too. The name will sound familiar to those Broadway fans-he scored Matilda.

One autobiographical song...(with a few f-bombs.)

This one cracks me up, but NSFW
As far as the serious songs, I have a trio I adore, but this one is today's favorite...
It is great to have those friendships in the computer, but when they share something that I end up enjoying as much as one of them do, well that's a nice bonus...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Promising Research

So, my major professor and I determined what and how I will conduct research for my dissertation. At the time, I hadn't found a single thing that came close to what I was looking to explore.

Then, I had to do an article review for class-and found a paper presented two months ago that just got submitted for publication. It essentially did what I plan to do, but on a smaller scale and with a different research design. Still, it is good to see researchers finding significance.

What this means for me is that I can look at the flaws in their methodology and adjust for them. I'd already decided that the method they used would suffer from validity concerns in that some of the student gains could be attributed to exposure effects. They only had one group of ten and all were participants. Meanwhile, I want to use two groups, one receiving instruction via iPad and the other, traditional face to face with a teacher.

Now that one has shown up, it is only a matter of time before more research with iPads gets published. I'm hoping there is a substantial amount in the next 2.5 years, because that will help me refine my plans when I see the flaws in other studies!

So, thank you, Kennedy Kreiger Institute-you beat me to the punch and that makes my job easier!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Benefits of Blogging Redux

One of my classes this semester is throwing me off, in that all of the assignments are due SATURDAY night. The other class, as well as the class I TA, the assignments are due Monday morning, and most online classes I've taken have Sunday due dates. This is because in graduate studies, you have an extraordinarily high number of students who work full time and attend classes part time. (The doctoral level class? Not one full time student this time around-we all have full time jobs.)

So, my head is having a hard time accepting the fact that the work is due Saturday nights.

Meanwhile, tonight's the due date for a SIX page paper. Have I started it yet? No.

Am I worried? No.

The reason is that it is a review of two articles, when I've read many on the topic. I just need to synthesize the information into one paper, the rubric is a piece of cake and well, after writing the blog (and editing work for others, to be quite honest) I don't feel like this is a big deal. Six pages will take me about an hour to write, because I have the nuggets of information brewing.

And this is definitely attributable to blogging, where I'll have ideas for posts bouncing around in my head for days.

I'm really thinking that I should turn Chef onto blogging as he enters high school, as it really does change your mindset!

Friday, June 21, 2013


I'm usually the first one to work every morning. However, now that the kids are out of school, my boss usually arrives a little before or a little after me. Today, she got in about 7 and was surprised that I wasn't there.

One of my coworkers came in at her usual time and was surprised that I wasn't at my desk. She went to the boss and asked "Where's Suzanne?" and boss thought that maybe I'd asked for the day off and she forgot. Still, she was a little concerned and texted me and pinged me on Facebook.

I was still sleeping.

I woke just before 9am! Yikes! I'd thought I set my alarm, but I did it with my glasses off-and apparently I hadn't done so.

So, in four months, they expect me to be the first one there, which is good. Then, at 3pm, the boss told everyone to go home, because she doesn't feel right leaving on a Friday and expecting her staff to stay. I said I'd stay and get my hours in. She insisted I didn't have to do that, but I have that deadline and I felt guilty.

It was strange to be the last to leave by a lot, but hey, I like having that reputation for being there AND for doing my work as promised.

And I won't set my alarm without my glasses again...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Week to Go Live

My iBook project at work is almost ready for student rollout. This means that we'll have a bunch of students each take a chapter and give feedback for what they like and don't like, or even features they would add to the content to help them retain the information.

I have to create a Qualtrex quiz to embed in each chapter, but that's ridiculously easy. You know those online quizzes you take for retailers? It will be like that, but the same quiz with encoding for me to know which chapter the respondent is reporting on.

The hard part is going back and redoing the first two chapters. They're not hard, per se, it's just that what was created is really difference from what I'm doing. What I do is mostly educational theory, but enough of it is design that the developer's style comes through. Even Ed said after seeing a chapter and a half that he sees my style emerging in what I create.

Those chapters were made by someone who has such a different style, who didn't take the time to explore all the functionality as it relates to sound educational theory. In the past six weeks, a lot of what I do has become automatic, and I'd forgotten that that the first two chapters took much longer and weren't using the design principles that should be front and center for education. It is really hard to look at them. What's sad is that there were chapters created by someone who is NOT an instructional designer and they were much better.

It'll be good to get the feedback from the students to see if I'm on the right track with the elements I added to supplement content.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Crunchier Than I Thought

I don't consider myself a huge alternative medicine person. Which is to say, if there is an option, I'll give it a try, but generally, I do not go out of my way to use them. Today, I came to a realization that I use them far more than I'd realized.

I awoke with a headache. Now, my migraines present in one part of the skull, the Chiari headaches are different from those, and I'll get sinus headaches. Today's headache was on the right side, just behind the ear. I attributed it to the dental work and figured that I should get something in my stomach and take some Aleve.

So, I did that, and it didn't work. I also had some headache specific caplets in my desk, so I took those two hours later and still had no success. That's where alternatives come in-I heated my thermalon and wrapped it around my head. Heat or ice can help, and heat didn't do it.

Which left me with the thought of going to track down some migraine ice pads. Alas, I had no success, but in the effort, it struck me that I put more stock in the non-drug treatments than the analgesics. I do the same with the leg, too. While I have medications for the flareups, those usually go untouched in favor of soaks and the thermalon or other methods of pain relief.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I Want a Beer Cooler Like This!!

My next house will have one...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Timing is Everything

The temporary crown is giving me fits today. Like majorly annoying fits.

Good thing it is getting an eviction notice tomorrow!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fred's Southern Kitchen, Lakeland

It is all Facebook's fault.

The group that talks about my hometown had a post from one of the members about 'taking back' Raay Nor's from the maws of the Mediterranean restaurant that now resides in the building that served up the best fried chicken on Long Island. Oh, and the best pot pie, too, as I was just as much a fan of that wonderfully flaky crust over a nice thick stew.

Then, I moved to a group of a dozen or so online friends, and one is traveling and stunned at the delivery choices where she is. Her hometown only has pizza delivery. We talked about steak (btw, Steak Out does a fine job-had those in the DC area), Chinese food, and then I mentioned the chain that we had in my hometown, Chicken Delight. Their slogan "Don't cook tonight, call Chicken Delight!" As a teen, I looked forward to babysitting gigs where the parents left me money to order food-I'd order the chicken instead of pizza!

After two things talking about good fried chicken, I wanted some-and not the heavily breaded, greasy stuff that they serve at the fast food restaurants. I wanted the real deal, authentic southern fried chicken. Hell, I live in the south, I should find it, right?

Thinking on it a bit, I thought of the local restaurant that I know does it right, Buddy Freddy's. Well, I didn't want to drive over to Plant City, but I realized that another one of the restaurants started by the Johnson family is nearby, Fred's Southern Kitchen. It was on the list of places to try when really hungry, because I usually get a salad and one plate of food. However, I wanted chicken.

Here's where I went afield of what you'd expect-I asked my vegan friend to join me. We have been working on a project together and it made sense to see if he wanted to go to lunch. The menu featured enough veggies that I figured he'd be fine. Fortunately, he agreed.

If you're familiar with the Johnson family restaurants, Fred's Southern Kitchen is a more subdued version of Buddy Freddy's-medium woods, lots of plaid, a more homestyle buffet and a dessert station that is staffed by a server who prepares exactly what you want. No candy novelties in the lobby, either.

That said, the buffet was ample, even at an off hour, fresh and tasty. The salad bar had plenty of vegetables and an assortment of cold salads. I tend to ignore those, but there were a dozen choices if you go for Waldorf salads and the like. I got some mixed greens, plenty of tomatoes, peppers, and onions and all were crisp and fresh. Normally, I don't go for ranch dressing, but there's something about this dressing at their restaurants, it isn't thick and heavy like it tends to be out of a refrigerated bottle.

The first trip to the buffet, I found a nice chicken breast that was lightly breaded and not a bit greasy. It was juicy and their breading isn't something that it is at all the fast food joints-salty. It was nice to taste the rest of the flavors without being beat over the head with the salt! I also got myself the sweet potato casserole, carrots, zucchini, rutabagas, and a little bit of mac and cheese. The second trip, I tried a little bit of the new potatoes, one piece of the stew, a small piece of the fried catfish and the pole beans.

The food definitely feels like grandma was cooking for the family in her kitchen all day. It is not haute cuisine, just simple southern food, which may or may not be heavily buttered. In this case, only the carrots were sauteed in butter, the others were lightly seasoned. For me, the hit was the pole beans, I love them and if I'd gotten them on the first trip, I would have stuffed myself silly with them the second time around.

Another star is that catfish. It was dredged in cornmeal and fried. Not a bit greasy and just a bit crunch. It was nice. The rutabagas were chunked and slightly sweet. Those and the zucchini are something that I am the only one at home who likes, so if they're on a buffet, I am all over them.

Dessert called me, and even though it made me over full, I had a lava brownie with a little bit of vanilla blue bell. It was so good, the creamy ice cream nice against the slight crunch of the brownie that was prepared in a muffin tin.

Now, you're probably wondering how a vegan fares in a place like this. The answer is surprisingly well. He recently found that he can tolerate small amounts of dairy, but still has to avoid all meats. He got two full plates of selections, as the vegetarian choices at most restaurants around here are lacking. Honestly, this was kismet, because another Fred's location is near his family and now he has a dining out option that everyone will like. The only item he repeated was the mashed potatoes, probably because he hadn't had any homestyle made in several years!

Fred's does vegetarian pricing, they also have a soup and salad price and on weekdays, a one trip through the buffet price. That one makes more sense for me in the future, because I'm definitely going back. I suspect I won't be alone, either.

Fred's Southern Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 15, 2013

What, Me? Barhopping?

The last time I could recall visiting more than one bar in an evening was in 1988, when I lived on Long Island. Then I remembered one of the rare occasions when I went out with coworkers to a going away dinner and then visiting various bars on Market Street in Frederick. We visited three bars in 30 minutes and heard three different bands perform 'Shine' in 30 minutes as well!..

Well, last night, Ed got home from work and had the hankering for another visit to Brass Tap. Meanwhile, I was meeting with friends on a start up venture (that isn't mine, but involves me), so the idea wasn't to come to fruition.

However, while we were wrapping up tonight's bar shop, he expressed a desire to go to Brass Tap, and so we did. We both felt like reckless youth. The kind who only have low APV drinks with good flavor and leave a place without a buzz.

It was a good idea. I think we found a local favorite.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Fives: Five Meals My Kid Will Know How to Cook

A blogging friend, Elizabeth, has a Friday Five hosted on her blog. I decided to join in because Five things? Easy peasy! Chef and I had a talk the last day of school. The objective for us this summer was to refresh him on cooking. More specifically, get him comfortable with actually using the stove, the one thing he did not do in all those cooking lessons. So, we will work together on him learning some easy meals to make and things that will make big batches to either feed him for a while or feed a crowd if he's entertaining. These are what we'll be covering:

1. Homemade Macaroni and Cheese.

As GameTeen can't have dyes, my kids have pretty much been raised on mom's homemade (or Dad will make velveeta shells and cheese, because it doesn't use dye). It has all the things that a kid likes in a meal: One pot, quick, and it makes a bunch. Both boys know you can vary the cheese according to what is on hand, but now I'm going to show him how the 'everything is better with bacon' rule applies. Best part is that it can be on the table in about 20 minutes.

2. Biscuits and Gravy

Basically, Chef is going to learn how to make a roux, which every cook needs to know how to do. In fact, the Mac and cheese uses a roux with cheese added, which is then called a Mornay sauce. The beauty of a roux is that it can be used to make sausage gravy, chicken a la king, chipped beef, and a minor modification makes it into Chicken Pot Pie, which Chef lovingly calls 'Paste'. One pan, one baking sheet and in 15 minutes, food is ready to consume.

3. Spaghetti sauce.

This, like the biscuits and gravy, is really a mother sauce and Chef will get to learn how to make marinara, arrabiatta, and bolognese sauces. It is one of the first things my mom taught me, all of my siblings and I have our own unique twist to mom's marinara. It'll be interesting to see what Chef does. Somehow, I envision something with tons of rosemary and garlic, his favorite herb and ingredient together. Along with that will probably be meatballs, and at the very least, he'll have meatball subs.

4. Chicken soup.

Chef is my soup fan. I think the only one he doesn't eat is tomato and he is all over any homemade soups. He has been spoiled by homemade chicken soup using the rotisserie chicken shortcut for a while, and the objective is to teach him how to properly pick a carcass, make the stock from it, then create a hearty soup from it. The bonus is that my pot pie recipe is a hybrid of this and the roux, so he gets to expand the repetoire by combining the two.

5. Chicken cutlets.

You can put a fine steak in front of my son and he's indifferent to it. Chicken? He gets excited.

Which is why my goal is to have him making the family favorite. Heck, when I was his age, my mom deemed mine better than hers, and I'd be tasked with cooking them on her night off every once in a while. Is it too much to hope that my son does the same for me?

So, if you have teens, do they cook? If they do, what do they prepare?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Iz Lapcat

Scamp is not a lap cat. He likes to lay squished up against my legs.

I replaced Chef's desk chair by grabbing a bargain out of Ikea's As Is room recently, which means my office chair is bigger. All of a sudden, he wants to be in my lap. He sat there for almost an hour last night, purring away. Then he chomped down on me, hard.

Maybe lap cats aren't all that cool.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Some Things That Tip Your Hand as a Tech Doofus

The guy in IT makes a mistake and creates a dummy help ticket and sends it to EVERYONE at work. If you were one of the 70 who replied to the 'test-please disregard' email saying 'why did I get this?', you might be the tech doofus-because your message also went reply all. Yep, approximately 70 doofuses.

You have big dreams of becoming a blogger. It's your ticket to fame and fortune. Except, you start it with a bunch of posts all at once and then don't post another thing ever. Then you keep on pointing people to that blog you're so proud of, but you haven't posted anything new. Instead of looking awesome, you just look like a clueless hack. Post on a regular basis or don't keep using social media to point people to the same couple of posts that were there the last time they looked at your blog. If you don't know how to add new posts, look at the help offered by your blog host. Another tech doofus.

You got a new computer-five years ago. However, you're still using Internet Explorer, the browser that Microsoft hasn't updated and developers do not bother testing to ensure their stuff works on it. Then you complain that you can't get the software/Facebook/synchronous class lecture to work on your machine. You are also a tech doofus. (If I have one suggestion, go with Chrome. As much as I like Firefox, Chrome is easy on noobs.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It is WRONG (giggle)

After last year's Doctor Who episode in which the evil doers were the angel statues of Manhattan, I'm mildly creeped out by statues. Yes, it is a work of fiction, but still, those statues are everywhere.

So, the news tonight about some statues being vandalized on Snell Island should have engendered some ire, along with the residents, but they were statues. That looked like this:

If the statues on the Doctor Who episode looked like that, I wouldn't be concerned about the unadulterated versions...

Monday, June 10, 2013

The World Looks Different

I picked up my bifocals on the way home from work. Yep, bifocals. There is no illusion of being younger than you are with bifocals!

Alas, the boxes of my contacts arrived, but not the trial pair I will need to ensure the prescription is correct before we open those boxes. So, I won't be trying them out this week, but I will need to get used to the readers on the bottom and the distance on the top.

It should be a fun few days!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Seen in Ybor

Saw this a few weeks ago, and every time I go through my photo stream, it makes me giggle.

I like a tattoo parlor with a sense of humor!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Katie's Choice-Shellac Midnight Swim and More

I didn't know what to go with today and let Katie decide. This means that for three weeks, I will be looking at this:

Apparently, the one different color fingernail is hot right now, but it is the pinky on my left hand and index finger on my right. Plus, it is pink. So, I may be regretting letting her decide! We shall see.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Where Have You Been Hiding?

Ed and I hit pay dirt tonight.

Now that the kids are older, we go out for a date night one night a week, get a drink or two at a local place and catch up on what's going on. Only the pickings are usually pretty slim. We can go to Applebees, the bowling alley bar, Hooters, BW3, or one of the little places where they don't serve food, which means people can smoke. No thanks.

' Tonight, however, we found the place with 60+ craft beers on tap, another 250 in bottles, a stage with a band playing over the bar and friendly bartenders. It was hard to decide which beers we wanted to try first. I did get Ed to have the DTs, so I was amused. :)

Thursday, June 06, 2013


Five days into the hurricane season and we got the first named storm. I'm not sure this bodes well!

The part I really didn't like is that this storm spawned tornadoes. One of them was a waterspout that came ashore at Channelside and was eventually spotted a mile from my job. So that's what the campus emergency sirens sound like!

I will say this, if you don't have that WeatherShield app on your phone, GET IT. Mine was working overtime today, but it was a very good thing, as it gave us 10 minutes warning that this tornado was headed our way. So, even though tornadoes are my biggest weather fear, it was reassuring to know what was going on.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Grading Once More

The professor and I agreed to a manageable workload for me: I facilitate and grade 4 of the 8 assignments that the students will be turning in, roughly every other week. I was given the choice, and selected the parts of web design that interest me most. Which means that this week, I'm grading CSS work. While I don't use it daily, it is something that came easily to me when I took this course.

Facilitation means that not only do I grade, I interact in the discussion board, providing feedback publicly that should engage others in commentary. Within the class, there are a decent number of professionals, so the caliber of work is such that even as a tough grader, there isn't much to deduct. The bonus is that the students who work with web design are charged with bringing something new to the table, to challenge themselves. This makes me happy, as I'll learn some new things from those more talented.

That part of the experience is what prompted me to volunteer to TA. What I didn't consider, the bonus part, is that while I built out courses in the LMS we now use, I had to do every step for this course and now am using all the features as an instructor. Practical experience that will definitely come in handy soon enough, when professors ask me how to set up their grade book, or whether they can comment as they view assignments. Developers don't typically get end user experience.

So once again, while I am an instructor, I'm probably learning more than the students!

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Last Day of School

Finally, it is the end of the school year for the boys. I don't know who looks forward to it more, them or us! A ten week reprieve from driving GameTeen to school, from nagging Chef to go to bed at a reasonable hour!

What Chef probably didn't expect is that Mom had plans to prepare him for the high school career. We'll be working on some SAT prep books (I like the Kaplan study guides for the GRE, so I'm starting him with those. He'll also be resuming some cooking lessons. This time, though, instead of lessons at a cooking school, he'll be learning how to make some of his favorites with Mom.

The goal is to have him spend his summers learning how to be self-sufficient.

Surprisingly, he's excited about the fact that he'll have 'Mom School' of sorts this summer...

Monday, June 03, 2013

I Got My Baby Back

Tonight, Sputnik is sitting in my driveway.

It looked like we were going to find a new owner for her, as the transmission repair would not guarantee we would resolve the known defect with the tiptronic transmissions. However, the commute over to Tampa every day (and the one year warranty) made both of us realize about six months of driving back and forth in the van would eat up the price of the transmission repair in the gas difference.

It has been so long that when I got in the car tonight, I'd forgotten where everything was! But it'll be nice to zip down the interstate in my little car, instead of a big boat.