Monday, January 30, 2012

Welcome to February!

Classes for the month of February have begun, and the new month is underway.  My day started off too damn early.  Mornings are not my thing.  I am definitely more of a night owl.  So are the Big and Little Guys, it seems.  Both were less than pleased at waking up at dark o'clock so that I could get to work.  But, awaken, they did and off we went.  

My day has gone well thus far.  I am sitting at my desk on campus typing and working on my (visiting) iPad.  There is a slight catch though.  We are working with the iPads to prepare us for their introduction to the student body over the summer, but the books in my Fundamentals course are not compatible with the iPad.  The labs require the use of the program Flash... Which Apple does not allow iPads to install.  How will this affect the future of the iPad/Fundamentals integration?  I don't know, and, to be honest, those are concerns for someone higher up the pay scale than I.  

The iPad has already proven to be useful in multiple ways, and, I hate to admit, has started winning me over.  My ebook collection has grown significantly and I also downloaded some free books and apps for Little Guy, including a Lego Builder game app and a handwriting app that he can use to practice his handwriting.  Project Gutenberg has many of my favorite classics available for download, and I totally took advantage of that.  

I remember going on road trips when I was younger and taking two bags - one with the clothes I needed and the other full of books.  Something like this would have very useful to have in those days.  It certainly would have cut down on the amount of space I needed in the car!  Seeing how Little Guy interacts with this technology has also been fascinating.  

He really took to it like he was born with an iPad in hand.  He learned rapidly how to work it and get things done and he came downstairs the other night to tell me he really liked the iPad and could he please have one...  I laughed, but don't think it hasn't crossed my mind, especially with the sheer amount of educational software available.  However, there are certain things an iPad cannot do that are slightly more pressing - like cook food, since our microwave went out, or stir things really fast, since our mixer started smoking and died after we moved in.  I tell myself that someday we will get to a point where we can afford what we need AND what we want...  For now, I will make do with what we've got. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

iPractice makes iPerfect

The end of the month is nigh.  I finished the two classes for January and discovered that I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to try out the new iPad for the next month. This blog entry is, in fact, being typed out in the notepad on the iPad from my sofa while I drink tea and watch Law & Order: Criminal Intent.  It is pretty cool; I must admit.
Photo by Jeff Wilcox

I have some nice and relaxing plans for the weekend.  Practice with the iPad, fun times with friends, and then class on Monday, two in fact.  Next month will be a long month.  I have two classes next month, luckily, but they are split shift.  I'll start at 8:30 in the morning and end at 10 at night.  That is another reason I am thrilled to be able to play around with the iPad.

This month, I can use the iPad and get the practice I need in the four hour stretch between the classes.  I can already tell that I am going to love this.  I was able to get onto Project Gutenberg and download two classic favorites of mine: Phantom of the Opera and Persuasion.

Jane Austen is one of my favorite Victorian writers.  I think she gets a bad rap for being insipid and dull.  If you read her with an eye toward her actual purpose, she's absolutely hilarious.  Much like Swift's Modest Proposal, Austen wrote with an eye on satire and mockery of "polite society" and the common roles women filled in that society.  I am really looking forward to reading it again as well as checking out the possible uses of an e-reader.

The e-reader vs. book debate will be one I weigh in on later.  Right now, I still side heavily with the paper form of books.  At the risk of sounding like an old woman, these new fangled e-readers need to stay the hell off my metaphorical lawn.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The calendar never lies...

Courtesy of Getty Images
I've found my month passing by rather rapidly. Every time I look at my calendar, I am left feeling kind of woozy at the passage of the days. Since classes are only a month long where I work, I find teaching to be white-hair inducing when the months are incredibly shortened... As they were this month.
We lost the first day of class thanks to the New Year's observation. We then lost another day this month for MLK Day. It wouldn't be so difficult if this were a traditional school setting, but we teach on a 1-class-per-month schedule. I did the math (with great difficulty) and discovered that each day of class is essentially 1 week in a traditional setting. That means I am cramming 2 weeks worth of material into other classes throughout the month. So, I've done that, my students have learned something despite their best efforts, and the month draws to a close.

On top of the two class shortened month, though, I also managed to hurt my back part of the way through the month. Usually I can catch it before it really gets bad, but this month it went from zero to "OH HOLY CHRIST THAT SMARTS" in a day. At one point I woke up, judged my back pain as "not too bad", stood up, and immediately sat back down on the bed. Apparently the process of standing caused a muscle spasm and that never goes well. Big Guy bought me a heating pad and made sure I had ibuprofen, so I spent a week hobbling through the house and ensconced on our sofa with a heating pad on my back.

What all of this has done, more than anything else, is make me cranky. I am cranky, I feel old, and I am tired. I am behind on so many things that I want to do because I've been babying myself. But, I've also avoided things I NEED to get done... Like write. I haven't worked on my story at all since the changing of the year and I'm irritated with myself for it. Part of it is more than internal frustration.

I'm feeling angsty and frustrated with certain things. I just need to suck it up and get over it. Instead, I intend to focus on what I am going to do in the spring and summer as the seasons change. Little Guy and I have already been discussing what plants we want to grow. Little Guy wants to plant peas and tomatos for sure. I'm surprised he didn't ask for carrots! I know I need to get sage, basil, oregano, mint, lemon balm, and other delicious plants to grow. For the first time in a couple years I am excited about the growing season. We are no living in a place where things can actually grow!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Life is good

It was a rather Green Christmas

Coming down off the holiday rush always takes time. This season was no exception. We had a truly wonderful holiday, filled with friends, family, warmth and laughter. The week between Christmas and New Year's Eve we held no fewer than 3 parties. There was food and drink flowing, stories, jokes, and games... It was a good holiday.
Crockpot Mulled Wine - Recipe below

But, now we get into the long, slow stretch of the winter. The snow was slow i n coming, but it has hit Indiana with a vengeance. Between Thursday night and today, the brownish-green winter grass has been covered with a thick, white blanket of snow. When I went in to work on Thursday, it was in the mid 40's. When I came home that night, the temperature had dropped and the snow had started to fall. Looking out of our bedroom window at the street below, the neighborhood appeared abandoned. No cars had driven down the length of the road, leaving the snow pristine and unmarred by tire tracks.

Yesterday, we left to run a few errands and then came home to our nice warm house (what a change!) and good food prepared by Big Guy. Little Guy vanished upstairs. He was supposed to clean his closet and put his clothes in his dresser, but I heard the unmistakable sound of battle as his knights fought off the encroaching dragon. Our plan this weekend is simple (especially since Monday is a holiday). Stay home.

I woke up this morning and made a pot of coffee. Shortly, I'll sit on the sofa, curled underneath a blanket as I work on a blanket I'm crocheting. I've been burning through Law & Order: Criminal Intent on Netflix as I work, so that will probably go on again. Little Guy will hopefully finish putting his clothes away and Big Guy will continue to play his Civ 5 Christmas gift.

It's peaceful here. Life is good.

2 bottle cheap red wine
1 cup brown sugar
2 oranges, cut into pieces
2 apples, wedged
Handful of cloves
Cinnamon stick

Put the cinnamon stick and cloves on the bottom of the crockpot, top with the apples and oranges.  Sprinkle the brown sugar over the top and splash in the brandy and rum.  Add the two bottles of red wine.  Don't worry about brand or type, get whatever is on sale.  Put the lid on the mixture and set on low for about 6 hours.  Stir once in a while and make sure the lid is on so the entire mixture doesn't evaporate.  It is remarkably sweet, good, and warming.