Old Sacramento

I don’t know how a person can turn a fun day into a boring article, but I’ve started this at least three times, and I have succeeded in boring even myself all three times.

I could just describe the site of my story, and let you take guesses about where it takes place, but the title was the one good thing I started writing, and I refused to edit it.  So I ruined that serendipitous moment.  I wanted to tell you all about my pictures of Evangeline’s Costume Mansion, but I forgot to resize my pictures, and they wouldn’t load fast enough, so in the interim I started writing about paying $20 for parking, then getting  lost.  That’s an exaggeration.  No, not the parking fee.  You can’t get lost if you have a working a cell phone.  If you can’t read a map, or the directions, or even if you can, and you can’t see your husband, if you are conspicuous enough, he will see you and text you, “Look to your left.”  There he was waiting to eat at Railroad Fish and Chips at 1100 Front Street.

But Evangeline’s really was the shop that grabbed my attention.  At work I am planning a student event in Allensworth, a turn of the century freedom colony State Historic Park in southern Tulare County, and my fellow planners want to bring the historic state park to life by training 150 African-American teen docents to be the townspeople resplendent with turn of the century costumes.  So when I saw costumes in this old west town, I thought, “Perfect, I’ll find just the costumes I need to bring Allensworth to life.”

I walked in and was greeted by the saloon girl up on the shelf.  She probably gets her feathers ruffled by the air conditioning blowing on her all the time, but she never complained while I was there.

Sally pointed the way with her cane to the Old West Room.  This was the room if you wanted to look like Sally.

I was pretty sure that we didn’t want 75 young teen-aged female students looking like Sally.  For a little bit more respectable look, you could walk out the door and into the hall.   However, the key words here were “a little bit”.  Still not quite right for a student event for teaching local second to fourth graders about California’s only all African-American freedom colony, founded by Col. Allensworth, a retired Army chaplain.  Fortuitously, there were more rooms.

 Unfortunately, the rooms had different themes, and none of them quite fit the Allensworth I had envisioned.  It was an interesting diversion, though.  For someone feeling a little more militant, and a little pessimistic about the air quality in California, then this might be the perfect costume topper.

Of course there were boots or shoes to go with every costume.

Ladies, right this way. Boots and gloves to go with your gas mask.

Now, if you want to go even higher in the line of military gear, you can go to the very top.

Arnold, what are you doing in with this bunch? You are the terminator, not the Commander-in-Chief.

Maybe you’ve felt a bit off your game, a little strange, out of it even.  Have they got the costume for you!
I AM smiling.

Just hope you don’t land in the hospital.

If you do I hope you find someone helpful to fit into  these shoes.
 
There were bloody legs and heads, police helmets and badges and more shoes,  but after that I thought I’d better find my ride back to the real world.  
So I headed back to the street to call my husband, but I got side-tracked.
About then my cell phone vibrated me, “Look to your left.”  It was time to go back home.

Yard Art Springing into Summer

Some of our yard art automatically changes with the seasons even though California is not as seasonal as Indiana where I grew up.  When I started this website, the creek behind our house that is a sandy trail for motor cycles 9 months out of the year had water in it.

In April the flowers getting most of the attention in our yard were primarily the wild, California poppies.  Bees were busy.

Cherry blossoms attracted the bees, too.

Trees this year promised lots of cherries.

Things happen, and in a region where the temperature usually goes from wintry cool to instant three digit numbers, our weather pattern took a detour on April 11 and pounded our yard art.

All I could do is stand and watch the beauty and art in the storm.

Some of the living art made it.  The cherries, not so much.  If you look really closely you still can’t find a single cherry on the tree that looked so tempting before April 11.

By the end of May I anticipated biting into ripe juicy apricots in spite of the hail.

Tonight, two weeks later, I have lost some of my naivety about trees that tease you with their abundance.

However, I can’t totally lose heart and hope.  We may not have green thumbs when it comes to fruit, but the roses  bloom until the weather does get into the 100s, and the cooler than normal temperatures helped them keep up their artful color.

Some of our yard art is planned quaint.

Some is unplanned quaint.

And on this breezy, summer evening in June Puppy Girl and I enjoyed becoming part of the quaint yard art.

Seven on Sunday

Six on Sunday was my least popular post.  Hard to mess with Ten on Tuesday.  Maybe 16 on Sunday might sell better, or maybe the holy number 7.  Can I find seven holy things today?  Pardon me if I bend the word a little, but I’ll give it a shot.  Tell me if I succeeded.

1.  “Holy cow, that is an expensive car,” both my husband and step-son explained in  hushed, I wish I could win the lottery tones.

“The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren was an expensive supercar that boasted a top speed in excess of 200 mph and could sprint from zero to 60 mph in under 4 seconds. Unless you were a CEO or media mogul, the SLR was unlikely to show up on your shopping list, as a new one cost around a half-million dollars. It’s equally unlikely that you’ll ever even see one, since overall sales numbers for the North American market were only in the hundreds before the car was discontinued in 2009.”

2.  Native American stories handed down over generations venerate the wolf as a holy animal.  Today people still love the lone wolf and honor it in a different way.

3.  Holy matrimony requires attending an occasional car show on Sunday even.  One must pay proper reverence to the cars that make the most noise and go the fastest.   There were some other breeds at the Corvette show in Sacramento.  This was his pick of this litter.

4.    Wikipedia is becoming accepted even in some academic circles if it has sources and it vetted.  According to this controversial source, “The English word “holy” dates back to at least the 11th Century with the Old English word hālig, an adjective derived from hāl meaning “whole” and used to mean “uninjured, sound, healthy, entire, complete”. The Scottish hale (“health, happiness and wholeness”) is the most complete modern form of this Old English root. The modern word “health” is also derived from the Old English hal.”

By the end of the show my normally somber-looking husband had a healthy and holy smile on his face.

5.  Gold and silver often denote power, riches, or prestige.  As it is written, at his birth the holy Christ-child received gold and other valuable gifts from the kings that came from afar to pay him homage.  Had he been born in the 1970s, he might have received one of these.

6.  Do you have a holy curiosity?  Not the kind that kills cats, but  weren’t you wondering what the back half of the longer vehicle was?  I had never seen one.  Imagine cruising down Interstate 5 in 1972 next to this Cadillac motor home.  Who might have been driving it?

7.  Historically water has had holy purposes in many religions.  It functions to cleanse the body of both evil and dirt, and prepare one for sacred service.  Air, on the other hand, has been taken for granted.  Dirty air is an unholy, unhealthy mess.  In the early 1900s, 1912-1917 to be exact, GM sold electric trucks.  They never caught on.  In 1997, GM tried again to introduce a vehicle that would help keep the air clean.  The EV1, produced in 1996, was leased only.  When the leases expired, GM thought they destroyed all the EV1s.   This One got away.

The rest were reincarnated as Nissan Leafs, which should  be leaves, but isn’t.  Now isn’t that reVolting?

The boys and I all had a great time in Sacramento, both at the Corvette show honoring the veterans, and at the California Auto Museum.  Hats off to the California Auto Museum which allowed veterans free admission today.  We all recommend this museum if you enjoy history, cars, trucks, famous people, or something to do on a Sunday afternoon.

 

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.

Common Core/History-Social Studies Presentation

The Six Shifts in the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts impact all subject areas K-12:

  • an increase in reading non-fiction texts
  • content area literacy
  • increased text complexity
  • focus on text-based questions
  • focus on writing arguments
  • academic vocabulary

Saturday, April 14th Mary Janzen, Fresno County Office of Education, Dr. Melissa Jordine, California State University, Fresno, and Marsha Ingrao, Tulare County Office of Education, all members of San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies, formed a successful tag team to present an awareness session to history and language arts teachers, literacy coaches and principals about the effect of the Common Core Standards in History-Social Science classes.

Getting acquainted with  Kagan Strategy, Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up

Administrators, college professors, and teachers wondered how the Common Core Standards will impact elementary, middle and high school history instruction.

Mary Janzen explains the Six Shifts.
Teachers discussed different perspectives between the strategies language arts teachers use to teach reading of information texts in the content areas, and the specialized strategies unique to social science.

Teachers examine the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to answer, "Did the states have the right to Secede?

Dr. Jordine shared the Civil War Blueprints, a California History Project document on which professors and teachers worked collaboratively for over a year to complete.  This extensive resource  contains lessons, primary sources, and strategies to help teachers integrate the Common Core Language Arts Standards in this Civil War unit of study.  Teachers in the workshop compared the legal rights of states in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to answer the question, “Did the South have the right to secede?”

Teachers examined a Toolkit which aligns the Analysis Skills of History-Social Science to the skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking to assist teachers in crafting quality critical thinking questions in both reading and writing    Marsha Ingrao explains ways to use the Toolkit to implement the Common Core Standards using existing materials in both language arts and history.

Teachers paired up to strategize how to use the Toolkit effectively in the classroom.

They also read and discussed a sample 6th grade Reading Informational Text assessment for 6th grade.

“Students trace the line of argument in Winston Churchill’s “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat” address to Parliament and evaluate his specific claims and opinions in the text, distinguishing which claims are supported by facts, reasons, and evidence, and which are not. [RI.6.8]”  Common Core Standards Appendix A p. 91.

Thursday, April 12th, Mary Janzen and Marsha Ingrao also made a short presentation to student teachers in Robin Perry’s Fresno Pacific University‘ s teacher preparation class about the Common Core Standards and the Toolkit.  Students were also invited to become members of the San Joaquin Council for the Social Studies.

 

 

 

The Common Core Standards provide  justification for elementary teachers to spend more time teaching history-social studies during the language arts’ block of time.  Teachers in middle and high school learn more reasons to collaborate to effectively implement the rigorous and relevant Common Core Standards.

To present effective instructional strategies specific to teaching history-social science analysis skills,  additional workshops will be held May 16th at Tulare County Office of Education, then in Fresno at Literacy Conference on May 22nd.  This summer, July 16-20th, Tulare County Office of Education will host a 5 day Common Core Institute featuring special presenters, as well as a complete roll out of the Toolkit, and technology training appropriate to implement the standards.

Dropbox v Google Docs

Not all technology eliminates frustration and irritation from my life, but for the most part these two applications do.  Although I use Google Docs almost daily, I should be a Dropbox salesperson.  For now, I’ll keep my day job, because I’m afraid that I couldn’t live for very long on my commission checks since both of these products are free.

I could be a Dropbox salesperson.

I often work on large projects with several collaborators, and the way I write, the projects usually need lots of edits.  Before Dropbox I used to email myself work to do at home.  I was thrilled that I could do that!  I would write or edit, then email it back to work, where my secretary/editor would edit.  We had so many copies in our computers that we got lost in the stacks of virtual files.  We created new names, and new files to keep them all straight.  One time the server at the office went down, and when it came back up again there was a new P Drive.  What no one knew was that for some reason I was still accessing the old P Drive, and my secretary was editing on the new P Drive.  Oddly we didn’t catch on to that fact for days.  Hopefully this doesn’t even sound vaguely familiar to you because I guarantee it was frustrating.

Even simple games take time to develop.

Dropbox and Google both store documents on the web and have different benefits, but personally I prefer Dropbox for most uses because of the following reasons.

1)  Dropbox uses whatever software you are using.  I use Microsoft products, and Dropbox stores all my documents as Word docx.  Google has good products, but they do not have all of the flexibility that I have spent years learning in Microsoft.

2)  Most people say they receive and can open up a document that I send them from Dropbox.  I have had people complain that they couldn’t open a Google Doc.  That may not be the problem with Google Doc, but with me the techy-less wonder, or even possibly the techy-less friend to whom I am sending a link.

3)  I can open up Dropbox without even being on the Internet, do my work, and as soon as I turn on the internet, the work syncs to the cyber cloud.  You have to log in to use Google Docs, and on my pokey computer, that can take more time that I want to spend.  I’m not in the twitch generation, but I have become  accustomed to instant.

4)  This makes me happy.  Everyone with whom I have shared a Dropbox folder gets a little message every time I make a change on a document.  People say, “I got lots of notifications that documents have been changed.  You must work REALLY hard.”  Did you hear that boss?   Actually I’m never satisfied with what I write, but they might also be seeing all my secretary’s  or one of my collaborator’s hard work instead.  I just smile, the project is active!

" 9 files have been synced."

5)  Using Dropbox you don’t create multiple versions of documents that get in your way all the time.  All of the revisions are saved, but you have to click on a tab to locate them, so they are not in your face all the time.  With Google I seem to end up with revisions with the same name as the original documents.  It doesn’t take much to confuse me.

6)  Another problem I have with Google and other cloud-only applications I blame on my internet provider.  Rural America where I live is internet-challenged, and the monopoly service I use puts the brakes on the internet speed when I have loaded too many megabytes of information during a 24 hour period.   When I am using Google Docs and that happens, I  type a few words, and wait for Google to catch up with me.  Sometimes Google completely has left out part of what I typed.  That was so irritating that I quit composing in Google, and did my work offline, and then uploaded it to Google later.   I have not had that happen since I learned to manage my download bytes, but trust comes back slowly so I still do most of my writing on Dropbox offline for that reason.

7)  Finally, there doesn’t seem to be a size limit on the document that can be uploaded to Dropbox, but I have exceeded my megabyte limit on Google when uploading a document containing several pictures.

However, in spite of my love for Dropbox, there are some things that Google does better.

1) For example, if you are collaborating in real-time, you can see the edits instantly, and you can chat as you write.  So it’s like you are thinking out loud as you write.  You can have several people online all doing the editing and chatting at the same time.  Confusing, but doable.  With Dropbox the changes are not visible until you save and sync your document.  Even then, your collaborator is still seeing the old document, until they close, and reopen it.  This is not convenient when you are working in real-time together, even when you are all in the same room.

2)  I had an another experience in which several of us were taking notes on an agenda created in a joint Dropbox folder.  My notes wrote over someone else’s notes, and his were gone, and all Dropbox had to say about it was “Marsha’s corrupted copy”  Both of us were red in the face that time.  Mine was embarrassed.

3)  I have nearly run out of space with Dropbox.  If you get your friends to use Dropbox you earn more space.  I like that.  If you want to open up another Dropbox account with a different email account, you get more space, but you don’t have the same convenience as you do with your primary account that is downloaded to all your computers.  You have to go online to Dropbox.com and log in with a different email account, and that is a hassle.  I think it is better to have all your files in one account and bite the bullet to buy more space than to have all your files spread over different accounts.  Saving space by using multiple accounts is bad when you forget in which account you stored the minutes to the meeting,  and the meeting just started, and it’s time to read the minutes.   I have never run out of space with Google Docs.

When I was a middle school student, my mother learned to drive just so she could bring me the homework I forgot to take to school.  At least that’s what I thought at the time.   Moms of the”igeneration” will never understand that chore.  Homework is accessible from everywhere and even the dog can’t eat it.  Thank you technological cyber-geniuses.  That’s one less problem for moms in the 2012 world.