Lee Skywatcher

What fascinated me today was the sky.  On the way home from work in the west was a block of grisly gray from high in the sky to the ground.  On the east was a dust devil.  That just seemed wrong, but what was really wrong was that I didn’t have my camera.  So I got it out when I came home.

Fortunately for me, the sky stayed diverse long enough for me to get tired of taking pictures.

By the way you don’t want to plant eucalyptus trees too near your pool.  They don’t clean up after themselves.  I faced east as I took these first two pictures.  Watch when I turn about 135 degrees.

Gray adds depth and interest to the sky, maybe even to one’s life if you believe the philosophers. As a hair color, and according to my fashion expert and co-worker, Glenn,  gray should not be an option in my wardrobe either.   But it looks nice if the sky is wearing a little of it – in places.

What made this evening particularly interesting was the next turn.  Looking straight south you could almost imagine yourself in another world.

You should neither spit into the wind nor take pictures into the sun. But in the spirit of providing you all with an accurate recording today’s sky display, I did it anyway.   If you live in the midwest or east, these skyscapes may not seem spectacular to you.  But in this area if you have something other than dusky,cloudless,  lifeless blue, you grab your camera and point up.

Relaxing After Work

A technician told me the other day that he didn’t mind driving home 35 minutes from work.  When he had lived 2 minutes from work, he always took a drive out into the country to relax before he went home.    His story inspired me to take you on a drive with me as I relax on my way home from work.

You are seeing rural California at its best.  The temperature is a perfect 80 degrees.  The air smells fresh and clean.  You can open your car windows, forget about air conditioning, and let the wind mess up your hair because you are going home.

I stopped along the way to take these pictures, and walked out into the middle of the street.  I could take my time snapping pictures because there is only evidence of human habitation here – telephone poles, garbage can, and, of course, groves and groves of trees, not so many real humans.

The foremost crop in this part of Tulare County is citrus.  Oranges have just been picked for the most part, and although there are still a few in the trees, they are small.

Without irrigation, this area is very arid.  I took this picture on  May 22, 2012, and the hills are already brown, and there are not even any weeds growing along the side of the road.

This is one of my favorite turns in the road.  It changes season by season, but is always beautiful.  Dark clouds, sometimes a heavy downpour, come occasionally from December until maybe as late as April and create a dramatic skyscape for the snow-capped peaks.  In early spring the white peaks of the Sierra Nevada contrast with a bluer sky.  On a windless mid-summer day dusty air hides the mountains, and in the fall the few deciduous trees turn orange and yellow.

Coming from the Midwest, and later the Northwest I had to develop an appreciation for the color brown.  In the Central Valley of California water comes from wells, reservoirs, and we also import water from the north.  A few years ago many, many trees died because farmers couldn’t get enough water.  Now those groves have been replanted.

You can see the drip irrigation hose wrapped around the first tree and stretches to all the trees in the row.  Some types of groves are flood irrigated periodically instead, but this is the most common method of watering citrus trees that I have seen in this area.

I grew up in cities.  I love them, the activities, the lights, the people, but my technician friend was right.  When I lived there, my family and I always took drives into the country to relax before or after going home.  Now I relax by going home, but have to go to cities  so I don’t turn into a vegetable.  I am blessed to have both in my life.

Twitter v TodaysMeet

Preparing for the implementation of the Common Core Standards includes implementing a high degree of technology.  As a professional developer, I need to be able to model the use of how readily available technology can be used in the classroom.  Yesterday my colleague, Mary, and I experimented with whether to use Twitter or TodaysMeet during our next presentation.

According to Rosa Golijan who wrote a blog article about Twitter over a year ago, there were 175 million registered Twitter users, not that all of them used it.  If any of those 175 million folks are like me they might have created an account to try it once.  I did, and then the account just sat there until I forgot my password and eventually even forgot I had opened the account.  I started a new account when I started this website a month ago today.  I am proud to have 37 tweets, follow 42 people, and have 16 followers on the account I use.  In comparison I learned about TodaysMeet last Friday, used it during a phone meeting on Wednesday, and practiced with Mary yesterday.

You can use either of these services as what we call a parking lot during a meeting or professional development to allow attendees to interact with each other and the presenter without verbally disrupting the presentation.  Engaged participants are actively listening.  They usually make comments to people either about the meeting or an idea that they are having at the moment.  When I started going to meetings, we whispered to each other, wrote notes and passed them all over the room, or waited until we had a free minute to talk.  By that time we usually talked about something else.

Technology makes this learning process easier.  With Twitter you do not have to  have an account to follow a meeting.  You go to Twitter.com/search and enter the name of the meeting that the presenter gives preceded by a hash mark (#).

The hash code will take you to a place where you can see all the notes that other people attending the meeting are posting.  You can write a post to make a comment or ask a question.  The presenter might have a co-presenter or a designated person who is following the tweets.  When an important comment or question is made, the designated person may either answer the tweet directly, interrupt the speaker, or even text the speaker that she/he has a question to answer.

TodaysMeet works the same way, but you don’t have to sign up for an account, or even use your real name.   The presenter creates a chat room, and you go to TodaysMeet.com/name of meeting, enter your name and join.

The presenter can press the twitter button at the bottom to invite all tweeters to the meeting.  This also takes people to the TodaysMeet chat room, not to Twitter.

Once you press join, you have entered the room and may start making comments.  You have up to 140 characters, then you press say.

The presenter can use these comments to tailor the meeting to the needs of the participants.  The comments are saved online for up to a month, and anyone can access them, but ultimately they disappear.

Twitter is different.  The comments are saved indefinitely.  Twitter screens out all of the other tweets so that all you see are the comments made during the meeting, otherwise it would be very distracting.  Another major difference with Twitter is that people can access information from other Twitter users’ profiles.  This can be helpful since networking is a great benefit to attending a training or meeting.  It is also nice to know about the presenter as well.

Mary and I decided to try only one of the two options so that we wouldn’t confuse ourselves or our participants.  Which one would you use or would you use both at the same time?  I’ll tell you after next week which one we chose, and how it went.  If you have any advice for us in the meantime, leave a comment.

Kalev

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People choose dogs based on their personality.  Those who choose small dogs love adventure and are confident.  Kalev is small and very confident, but how do dogs choose people?   When I met Kalev, she was about 6 months old.  She bounded across a rural highway, laid down at my feet, and said, “Take me home.”

I picked her up, carried her back across the highway to the yard watched a lady quickly retreat back into the house and shut the door.  I knocked on the door, dog in arm, and when she answered said, “You’d better keep your baby inside.”

“That’s not my dog.”  Slam.

Ok then… So puppy and I were off to look for her owner.  I knocked at every house on the block and then proceeded on my 3 mile walk, stopping periodically to ask if anyone recognized my new tag-along.  Meanwhile Puppy chased every car that slowed down.

I am addicted to my cell phone, and while I walked, I talked.  My friend Elane finally asked me who I kept talking to as we chatted.  I told her about my uninvited guest, and Elane asked, “What’s her name?”

“I don’t know, Elane, she’s not my dog.”

“Her name is Kalev.”  I spell it like I heard it.  I asked her to repeat it a few times.  “It means dog in Hebrew.”

Ok then.  Puppy had a name, but no home.  I walk almost daily, and that December day was no different in spite of the fact that as soon as I returned our family was headed south because my husband’s father had just passed away, and there were several services we would be attending that week-end.  When I arrived home with Kalev, my husband was not pleased.  I was already in love with Kalev, but he clearly was not.

I made him a deal.  I would fix up a place for her to get out of the cold, and get her some food, when we returned, if she was still there I would keep her.  He didn’t really agree, but I was already adopted.  I got in the car and headed for the store.  Behind me ran Kalev as fast as her puppy legs would carry her.  I stopped the car.  She jumped in, and we rode to the store together with her in her rightful place on my lap.  She seemed to know that the store had food, so she didn’t fuss when I got out.  Once we got back home, I set up a dog kennel with blankets, put out her food and some water, and we were ready to leave.

My husband made a fatal mistake.  “You’d better have Ron hold on to her as we take off or she will chase the car.”  I quickly took her to the neighbor and asked if he could hold the dog for a few minutes, and explained that we were on our way to the funeral and would be back on Sunday night.  I might have told him the story about how Kalev found me.

“Sure, I’ll watch your dog while you’re gone,”  he winked.  When we got home Sunday, Ron called and I went to pick up my new puppy.  Even though my husband did not allow animals in the house this was Kalev about a half hour after she arrived back home.

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The first night I kept her in the kennel in the spare room.  She slept quietly, and so did we.  The next day my husband thought we should get her a little bed to keep in our bedroom so she wouldn’t be lonely.  If you have ever had a dog, has that worked very well for you?

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You can see that the red doggie bed is at the foot of the bed.  Clearly Kalev and Manny preferred the head of the bed.  How does a dog tell the difference between the head and foot of the bed?

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One night Vince was in bed, and wanted to talk to Puppy Girl – she had a nick-name already.  She was not excited about sliding to the head of the bed, but she dealt with it.  That night he made another rule.   The new rule was that she could get out of the bed, but she had to stay at the foot of the bed.  But her bed had been drug to the head of the bed.  What was a puppy to do?

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She figured it out.  Then the rule was that she couldn’t get under the covers.

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Who do you think stuck to that rule?

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Kalev may be about 3 now.  Guess whose dog she is.

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Ok I still love her, too.