Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dali Museum

The last time I went to the Dali, it was a couple of months before their move to the new location in January, 2011. As Ed had never been, I suggested going there as an anniversary date. It was a nice visit, but I can't share what was inside. Instead, you get to see the outside!



And post museum, since we were already in St. Pete, we went for the best wings ever at Biff Burger.

It was a great way to spend our anniversary, though I hope we get back over there before the next one.

Friday, August 30, 2013

CND Shellac: Rock Royalty Layered with Periwinkle Twinkle.

My friend A told me 'do something different with your nails', but Katie had a plan that I liked, so I have something that is a little different. I LOVE THIS COMBINATION!



The pictures do not pick up the iridescence or the fact that they kind of glow in person. I suspect there will be more 'I love your nails' than usual with these!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Feedback

For the massive work project I mentioned yesterday, we asked students to evaluate a chapter, then complete a 10 question survey. Unfortunately, not one student gave feedback-so I wasn't sure if what I was doing was appropriate for their needs. I did, however, know that using instructional design principles, I was on track. Couple that with cognitive learning theories, it should be a solid piece of instructional content.

Today, though, I met with the instructor teaching the class. She seemed to have the same opinion of the chapter I trudged through and loved the three new chapters I had created in the month since we last met. We developed a game plan this semester to ensure student input for modifications and future chapter development.

Then she tells me that she attended a conference, one where she brought out her iPad and showed the 7 chapters she had to quite a few other educators. She reported that many other schools were curious and expressed interest in doing the same thing. Which is how she informed me that there is another conference she will be attending in March and she wants to present the iBook. I was asked to join her to talk about the technology piece.

Good thing I'm getting my passport next week!

So, I went a month without student feedback, but my 'client' and her two coordinators gave me some wonderful feedback today.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Occupational Hazard

So, in my job, I look for content to make my iBooks interactive. Sometimes, this means a YouTube video, other times an image, still others, a link to a website that offers scholarly information about a topic covered in the text.

Until today, it had been relatively uneventful. But today, I was informed of Internet rule #34 "If it is on the Internet, someone has a fetish for it.". Too late I was educated about this rule AFTER I searched for video content for the chapter.

I need mind bleach.

Though my friend A knew Internet rule #34 AND had heard of this particular fetish and did not warn me of the possible existence of said fetish. He was rather amused, which resulted in a 45 minute conversation that was mostly hysterical laughing. And if you're wondering what the heck it was, you really don't want to know, other than the fact that it is a medically based one...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Leading the Way Once Again

As I've said to another friend in the profession, there is nothing that excites me more than helping someone else along their educational path.  Some people get their excitement from performing in front of an audience, others get it from winning at poker or sports. 


My thrill is guiding others.


Today, a friend in the computer spoke of her fear of not being good enough holding her back from seeking further schooling.  After chatting back and forth, she later told me that she sent an email to the director of the program she is interested in.  While the fear of how the heck to pay for it all is now forefront in the brain, I told her to take one step at a time. 


That felt pretty good. 


Then, about a half hour later, an IM from the first friend I made when I returned to college.  She double majored, so rather than finishing her undergrad a semester after I did, she just graduated this past May with  a pair of bachelor's degrees. 


She is taking the GRE this week.  My two closest friends from Poly are brilliant women-who choke on standardized tests.  If this were an oral exam or an essay, she would have no issue convincing an examiner that she is well qualified for the rigors of graduate school.  But, this afternoon, she was freaking out and asking for help. 


We spent a few hours this evening, not cramming the material, but talking.  Giving test tips, telling her about my experience with the test, what happens afterwards and that honestly, it doesn't hold as much weight as a high GPA will when it comes to choosing candidates for an incoming class.  She graduated with a 3.79 GPA, clearly she is a dedicated student. 


Once we talked about that, the conversation turned to the program she was contemplating and whether it was the right fit.  This is where I felt helped the most-I was able to show her that there were ample jobs in that field locally and what education employers are looking for job candidates. 


The best part is that she'd been wavering between two programs, and the one she wants doesn't require the GRE.  She will still take it, but the pressure is off her now. It will be a nice thing to share on her application, but not required.  With that fully realized, she probably will kick my butt on that GRE.


I hope she does, for it means I really did help her to find her focus and direction. 


Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day of School

The start of year 5. If tonight's class was any indication, I will enjoy it!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

VMAs




So, as Ed asked, why is a channel that no longer plays videos giving awards for videos? 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

One of Those Days





I did a lot of stuff today, but hardly any of the things on my 'to do' list.  Then I realized that tomorrow has a big item on the 'to do' list that basically kills getting those other things done tomorrow. 


Crap.


Well, I do have a nice accrual of vacation days, maybe I'll just take one of those to accomplish what needs to be finished. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

The last Baclava

Our favorite Lakeland restaurant is closing. We haz a sad.

If you saw my Facebook pictures over the past two years, you'd see about two dozen trips to this lovely gem in downtown Lakeland.  Great food, served by the Paca family-who greeted all who came through the doors as beloved friends.

There is a landlord dispute, so they're moving.  I'm hoping the time before we see Mustafa's smiling face is not very long...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pleasant To See

I earn a decent amount of vacation time at my job. As tomorrow is payday, my accrual updated this morning-and wow, I haven't had that much vacation time available to me since working for Disney!

Of course, the coming year presents a few options. All one really requires is the time off-the rest is already covered. All we need is our passports for that trip, and it will likely occur in November. The other big one though, is a cruise. One that really wouldn't interest the kids, as it is full of prog rock acts. However, for the first time ever, we have two responsible adults that we would feel comfortable leaving the kids with for the five days.

So, the question becomes 'is it just Ed going, or will we both?'

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Coming and Going

My drive to and from work today included views like these:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Amish Paradise?

TLC, in the past hour, has has had commercials for 'Breaking Amish', 'Amish Mafia', and 'Vanilla Ice Goes Amish'. I'm thinking that TLC is not what Weird Al had in mind for an Amish Paradise.

http://youtu.be/lOfZLb33uCg

Monday, August 19, 2013

Take Your Cat To Work Day

This morning, I awoke the new high schooler and then went back to bed, for my alarm normally goes off an hour past his will this year. Alas, the child was SLEEPING, when I got up when my alarm went off. So there was the mad scramble for him to get ready and for me to do the same

This meant I didn't give my pants an extra close scrutiny before leaving. They were hanging in the laundry room, which meant they were clean.

Ostensibly.

It wasn't until I arrived at work and looked down at my black dress pants that I realized that they looked more cat colored than black. Once at my desk, it took several tape rings to get them decatified. There was a time when I had a black dog, with wiry fur that did not cling to anything.

The sad part is that I don't think I could effectively match the cat fur to a pair of pants. He'd shed his slightly darker fur on lighter brown pants, and the lighter cream color on beige pants...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Back to School

Chef goes back to school in the morning. High school. He picked electives that were surprising, but honestly, are ones that pave the way for him to get a good job fresh out of school. Yes, he's planning on going to college and study sciences, but it doesn't hurt to have skills that can keep him employed part time while going to school.

Meanwhile, thanks to GameTeen's former school dragging their heels on getting paperwork to us (and at that, insisting that they mailed them when the postmark says something completely different), he will probably be starting next week. My classes start next Monday as well.

Ed will probably enjoy the piece and quiet.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

Only In Florida

As I left work today, I noticed this minivan ahead of me that had the sliding door behind the driver's door open. It made me wonder how the person could not know it was open or tolerate how unbelievably loud that sound of the air buffeting against the door must be. Let's just say having windows open a crack in a car that's going 50 miles an hour (such as the road we were traveling) would drive me absolutely nuts. That would have been unbearable.

Then I pulled closer-and noticed CHAIN LINK FENCE affixed to the back of the driver's seat that went to the other side of the opening where the door normally would be closed, all the better to keep the stuff that was inevitably flying around the inside of this guy's van from flying out.



The things people come up with just make me shake my head some days!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pillow Snob

There was a time where I didn't care about the pillow I rested on my head upon to sleep. Fluffy was nice, but not an absolute. Heck, I would wait a very long time before replacing pillows that were as flat as a pancake. Did this contribute to my neck problems? Oh, no doubt-but back then, so many things were factors in the problem that the pillow I used wasn't the sole cause.

Then I had the surgery. I had a neck that usually didn't hurt too much, but some mornings, I would wake up with a bad twinge. So I figured I should seek an ergonomic pillow of some sort. After all, the point of the surgery was to straighten the vertebrae and knit some new bone. But you usually don't get to test drive pillows. Buy one that's crappy and you're stuck with it. Not exactly what I was going to do when I was working for a pittance teaching wage.

A vlogger raved about her Tri-Core pillow and why she liked it, and it sounded like a good option for side sleeper like me: firm sides and a depression in the middle for my head, like this:



I finally understand why I see people carrying their pillow through an airport. I sleep so much better with this pillow, because there is great support for my neck.

It becomes very obvious how awesome the pillow is when I *don't* sleep on it. We spent a night in Daytona earlier this summer-I had an achy neck that hurt to turn the next day. There were two times here at home that I slept in my lovely chaise chair-and the same thing happened. So, I won't do that again, and you will definitely see me schlepping my pillow with me when I travel. It'd be worth it at twice the price-but I'm glad it's not. The takeaway? If your neck hurts when you get up in the morning, consider a different pillow. This one is the TriCore and I got it on Amazon, but do some exploring for what works for you. You will be happy you did...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nerd Girls Are Easy...to spot


My cube wall. There are others, but they are elsewhere. And if you're curious, I got them at RedBubble-and LOVE their selection and prices.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Disney Princess

During my lunch break, I headed over to the campus bookstore to return a textbook I had rented for the summer semester. The nearby student center normally offers many lunch options, but there appeared to be preparations for a reception for new students later in the day. As such, the food court was closed and everyone was in line for Einstein Bagel, my intended destination.

I ordered my Tuna bagel and drink and waited in the throng for them to call out my name to collect my food. Name after name got called, including those who had placed orders after me. Soon, it was down to me and three other people, despite at least ten people ordering behind me. C'est la vie.

One of the employees comes with a bag containing a sandwich. "Mulan?" No response. "Mulan?" Looking around and not seeing anyone who has a glimmer of recognition, she looks at the receipt "Tuna bagel with lettuce and onion?" Oh, that's me-I collect my sandwich. Mulan? It is quite a mangle of my last name.

With red hair and a tuna sandwich, don't you think she should have been calling for Ariel?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Good News and Limbo Once More

I saw the Neurosurgery ARNP today, and it was like a meeting between colleagues, something I love about the professionals that take good care of me. M and I spent a good bit of time catching up on where I am compared to my last visit. He sent me to radiology for an Xray and it is amazing to see how much better my C-spine looks.

The spine is now straight, instead of sloped forward. The screws are firmly in place and the pin that was placed between the vertebrae is clearly seen on the image, which means calcification is happening-I'm making new bone to replace that disc. This is all good.

The limbo part is also kind of good. M and I talked a bit about RSD. He has yet to work firsthand with a patient who has it, so we spent a bit of time talking about how mine was caused, how it manifested, that the additional vein stripping added to the leg situation and that for many RSD patients, any surgery is dicey as to whether it will spread.

I explained that it was a risk I was willing to take, and I would take again even if I knew this would be the outcome-because I am not in excruciating pain anymore. To go from 7's & 8's to 3's and 4's is worth it, IMO.

However, I explained that the sooner RSD treatment is initiated, the better the outcome. Unfortunately, as has happened before, my neurologist has left the Physician's Group, so I'm starting from scratch. This is where the partnership comes in: I explained the diagnostic measures and that the new doctor would probably want an EMG and MRI to see what is permanent, what can be reversed and finally, what is unrelated to nerve damage.

Based on that need and discussion of what a neurologist treating RSD tends to do, M gave me the person who specializes in EMG study. Unfortunately, the first appointment isn't until October 1st. Thus, I will start the weekly 'if there's a cancellation, even an hour before, would you please call me?', because my office is five minutes away from hers.

The bummer part was that when I asked about ADHD, thinking maybe the neuro would treat that too, instead, I was told adult diagnoses are done by a psychiatrist. So, another doctor, but I'm hopeful that this appointment can be made sooner than the neurologist. M has a lot of experience with this one, as he's even referred friends-something about graduate studies, he quipped!

So, good progress, and a little waiting until we get some answers on the rest. It is quite a switch from this time last year!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Next Food Network Star-Season Nine

I'm actually happy with the outcome, after being initially disappointed with the winnowing down to two.

However, I suspect Russell will end up with a show on Cooking Channel, which is probably a better venue for him, anyway. With Paula Deen gone, having Damaris with Modern Southern Cuisine is a good addition.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Too Long Between Visits

My relatives are mostly spread out across the NY/NJ metro area, with a few elsewhere in the US. On the rare occasion that I get up to NY, I only tend to see my sister Giggles and her clan, the others are kind of busy or out of the loop. Which is why the last time I saw my niece was when Chef was a newborn and we traveled to NY for the wedding of one of my best friends to one of Ed's good friends.

Yeah, so 14 years. A lot can change in that time. Like, the niece could go on to graduate college, work in interior design, launch her own clothing company, get that clothing company featured on a major website and then later get a job with that major website. She's a very driven young lady and through the magic of Facebook, we get to keep in touch, despite the miles.

She reconnected about a year ago with a good friend from middle/high school, and they talked, then talked some more and then embarked on a long-distance relationship. Thing is, while she was up in New Jersey, he? Lives less than two miles from me and Ed. They've been taking turns traveling to each others locales and this week was her turn to come to Florida.

The last time I saw her, she was a teen with braces. Now, she's a twenty something with a sense of style, an easy laugh, and a ton of charm. Her guy is pretty nice, too. We went for a Thai lunch and talked and talked and talked. Seems she had updates on family I don't hear from and I had updates for the rest. It was a nice few hours.

Now, we have each other's phone numbers and tentative plans to spend more time when she's back down next month. I'm not letting 14 years go by again!

Friday, August 09, 2013

Do Over

Last month, I took a final for a class and didn't do so hot. When I walked out, I thought I had a solid B on the exam. More like a low C. In a sign of how your mindset changes once you're in a terminal degree program, I thought 'Oh well, so I get a C in the class.'

The professor had other plans. Those of us who got C's were offered the opportunity to retake the exam. One of my friends did hers this morning, I did mine this afternoon.

As I worked through it the first time, I thought "oh crap, I am going to do worse on this one!", but skipped over things I absolutely did not know. Then I went through a second time and picked up a few more, and as I worked, memories of definitions were jogged, or one question provided one half of a puzzle and another the other half. (What is Cronbach's Alpha", then What is the internal consistency coefficient on this study?) By the third time through, there were only three things that I was totally stumped on, and at two points each, I thought I could leave them alone-then one popped into my head. I guessed at the other two.

This time, I'm not confident in my results, but I feel a lot better about it than I did when I went through it the first time...

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Doing some Pre-Appointment Neurological Testing...

Today, I had one of the professors come to me to handle a task rapidly. It involved taking the question bank we'd built for him last week and printing it out, because our learning management system truncates the questions on the instructor end to just the first five words. Not a good idea when about 40 questions start 'From this image, please identify..." Of course, me being me, I needed to ensure that it wasn't a simple cut and paste, instead, that all the html code was taken off his copy.

(And yes, he could do this himself, but that type of task keeps me employed. Bring them to me, please!)

I'd entered 250 of the questions into one question bank, a colleague did the other 200 or so. It was the first time seeing the questions. Many of them involved issues of the wrist and hand. And it's funny that I can look at a question about a woman presenting with carpal tunnel and it asking which nerve to test to confirm this diagnosis-and know the answer.

Thing is, one of the questions had an 'identify this' and it was a test in which you put the ends of your index finger and thumb together and make the "OK" sign. It should be rounded like an O, with the middle finger straight up.

I don't have an O, more of an oval. And yeah, I can put that index finger up straight if I consciously think about it, but man, it hurts to do it.

So, apparently, this is a medial nerve defect and they confirm diagnosis with an EMG, the test I know I'm slated for anyway.

At least this is an issue that typically resolves by itself.

Let's hope I'm not in the 2% on this one...

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Powerball

I clearly do not have the luck of the Irish.

Two powerball tickets, only ONE number on it. I'm hoping the coworker who went with me to get them had more.

At least we grabbed a decent lunch before we went back to work!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

I Will Miss Chef Having a Dress Code

For the past five years, Chef has had a dress code. His school at our previous house had uniform colors, but the kids had enough flexibility in both tops and bottoms that he didn't mind it too much. However, while he had choice of pant colors in elementary here, students are required to wear school logo t-shirts. Not only that, his middle school switched to khaki bottoms and color coded by grade t-shirts.

From a parent perspective, this is great. For a kid who has a big personality, it is the equivalent of being in one of Dante's circles of hell. Yes, I know that's overdramatic, but to a teen, it is apt.

He has been looking forward to high school, where he could wear what he wants. Earlier this year, there were rumblings that the high schools would also move to dress code, and he rejoiced when they did not. Meanwhile, Ed and I noticed that the kid is picky about his clothes, specifically, the bottoms he wears. Sure, I've got his shirts pegged (preferably v-neck, preferably green, blue, brown, gray, or black), but the lack of jeans was going to be a problem.

Several months back, we visited the outlets in Orlando and Ed pointed out a jean outlet. I know he was oblivious to who and what Lucky Jeans were, but enough friends raved about them to me on my message boards that I figured it was worth a shot. Chef not only tried on jeans, he liked three pairs and settled on two. They had a two for $120 sale and while I balked at the fact that I'd never spent $60 on jeans for myself, I did it.

However, now we're looking at school in two weeks and two pairs of jeans is just not going to cut it. He needs more than these:

I suspect it will be an expensive venture this time around. That said, those same friends told me their Lucky's last forever, so it's a worthwhile investment...except that the kid is growing like a weed. Maybe I should buy the 32" length and show him how many people are cuffing them on the website?

Monday, August 05, 2013

McAlister's Deli, Tampa

A few months back, my friend James, who has pretty much spent the past 7 years living on or near the USF campus, asked me to meet him for dinner. He chose McAlister's, a place I was unfamiliar with.

That first trip, I had a soup and sandwich combo and was pleased with the service, the food, and the price. Their menu is along the lines of what you'd find at Panera and Crispers, with many more options, including baked potatoes, but less soups. What I didn't know is that it is a chain that can be found throughout the US.

Today, I ventured over there because I wanted a salad and maybe a sandwich. Unfortunately, the Panera near campus has the worst parking lot I have ever encountered, so I avoid them for lunch. I've been disappointed that we don't have Crisper's over here, but remembered McAlister's today.

I opted for the pick two for 7.49, getting a half angus beef spud and the Savannah chopped salad (removing the gorgonzola). Behold what you get for that bargain price:



The spud had roast beef, cheddar jack cheese, caramelized onions (though they were barely there), and au jus. I was asked if I wanted butter and sour cream. While it was supposed to be half, I got a full size potato. Considering the price of a full, I wonder if they use gargantuan potatoes for those. I enjoyed the blend of flavors and ended up eating half.

The salad was a winner. Candied almonds, warm grilled chicken, cranberries and mixed greens with a nice balsamic vinaigrette. As with the potato, I ate half, but I wanted to eat the whole thing. The knowledge that it would be too much won out and I now have a good lunch waiting for me in the fridge at work.

Service is top notch, with a staffer bringing out my food and another topping off my peach tea. They were happy to provide a to go box, too. Both times, everyone was really friendly. The thing that gets me is that the place is nearly empty compared to Panera up the block, but they've got a much larger parking lot! I think I'll be heading over here when the urge for a salad hits.

If you're at USF and want something different, or you're leaving Busch Gardens and don't want fast food, try this quick serve place-it's less than a mile away on 30th street. Even better, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options hat either are already on the menu or one of the existing things can be modified easily. I won't be waiting so long to come back.

McAlister's Deli on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Next Food Network Star, Season 8: Final Three

Well, my earlier prediction was way off base, in that neither of the people are still in the race. At that time, it looked like those two had everything that Food Network would want.

That changed, and fast. Stacey, while being very polished, came off very rehearsed and reserved. Chad made some missteps for a couple of weeks and ultimately, his product pitch killed his chances. On the other hand, the three that remain continued to grow and improve, taking the criticism to heart.

So, right now, there are pilots from Rodney, Damaris, and Russell. I'd be happy with any of the three. If I have to choose one, I think Russell's would be my first pick.

We'll find out next Sunday.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Gelish A Mint of Spring and CND Additives Sea Glass Glitter

Katie thought A Mint of Spring is good as an accent color, not for all ten nails. Meanwhile, I saw matte and thought we could glitter it up. We looked at doing iridescent or sea glass and I agreed that sea glass would look better. I need to get some pictures in daylight to add to this.