Friday, June 27, 2008

Working at the office

Spent the day at the Elephant office trying to get my email configured correctly (still hasn't happened... grrr....) and in general working on things for the Elevision event with Robert Thurman later next month. It was a decently productive day, but would have been much more so had I gotten that goofy email working.

One thing has become definite fact. The best way to get around Boulder is NOT by car. I've made the decision that whenever I go to Boulder, that I'm just going to park the car in one spot and spend the rest of the day on my bike. Blake and I were able to get around Boulder faster by bicycle, and we were having a LOT more fun doing it.

I even got a spiffy new shirt today (the one I'm wearing in the picture), a new yoga video to review and some NEW BOOKS to review as well! New books!!! WOOHOO!!!

Yeah... umm... so my summer reading list has broken the 100 book count, I think. And no... that's NOT a bad thing at all! Of course, the only real down side is that I might not get a whole lot of time to do a lot of reading until after the Elevision event, but then again, I always seem to find time to read, no matter what else is going on! ;-)

The other cool event of the day is that Blake got invited to blog for Elephant. He's super stoked, and I'm pretty proud of him as well. I missed hanging out with Kyle today since he stayed home and kicked back for the day, but tomorrow is Farmers' Market day, so we'll get to spend some time together then. (Yay!)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Elevision with Robert Thurman

Yesterday I found out that Robert Thurman is going to be in Boulder on July 23rd for a book signing and interview on Elevision, a talk show done by Elephant Journal, at the Boulder Theater. I've been familiar with who he is (aside from being Uma Thurman's dad) for about two years now, and while I often thought about how great it would be to meet and talk with him, I never really considered it in the realm of possibility... until today. As soon as I found out about the event, I emailed Waylon Lewis, the publisher of Elephant Journal, and volunteered my help with the event. Today, Waylon called me and asked me how soon I could make it to Boulder so he could sit down with me and talk about the event and how I could help. I had to help out a neighbor with getting a washer, dryer, and dining room table into her house, but once I did that, it was off to Boulder. Waylon, Blake, and I sat down, and by the end of the meeting, I was pretty much in charge of the event! I even get free yoga with Richard Freeman at the Yoga Workshop out of it, so that's SUPER cool. If you are interested in the event, by the way, here's the link to it.

Needless to say, I'm really excited about this opportunity. I've done promotions and marketing work when I lived back East, so I have a good bit of experience doing this type of thing, but this one is different. I'm really excited about the possibility of meeting and talking with Prof. Thurman; I really never thought it would happen, and I'm really glad it is. I'm definitely going to get a copy of his new book and ask him to sign it and see if he would also be willing to sign the copy of another book of his that I have. (Yeah, I know... totally geeky and fanboy, but hey, I'm pretty geeky and even I have my fanboy moments.)

While I was in Boulder, Blake and I stopped by Tee and Cakes, based on a blog entry Waylon posted on the Elephant Journal site. They have some MIGHTY tasty cupcakes, let me tell you!!! Not too sweet, and the frosting was nice and light... YUMMY!

This has been a pretty crazy summer... I'm still hoping to get out climbing SOON. Waylon has never been climbing outdoors, and he really wants to go, so I have one more reason to get my butt out there. At least my bike is getting put to good use!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gaia Film Festival reflections

Spent the weekend helping out at the Gaia Film Festival in Boulder. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun also. I also had the good fortune to see some pretty great movies. On Friday, we watched the short film, Sacred Water, followed by Water, a movie about the properties of water, including the chemical properties, but water possesses qualities far beyond its chemical composition of H20, including the idea that not only can water be influenced by our thoughts and emotions, but also that water has memory. It was an interesting film, and I’m looking forward to getting it on dvd.

The movie that had the most impact on me, however, was Fields of Fuel, which I firmly believe has the potential to have an impact similar to An Inconvenient Truth. I have already made the decision to contact Subaru of America about the possibility of importing a Subaru Boxer diesel engine from Europe and putting it into my Forester if at all possible, then instead of using petroleum based regular diesel fuel, switching to biodiesel. I emailed Subaru and got a response that they are looking to bring the diesel Subaru to the United States in the next few years, but that’s not fast enough for me. I am completely sickened and fed up with the oil industry, and if it is at all possible, both logistically and financially, to get a boxer diesel in my car by summer’s end, I’m going to do it. I’m going to be calling Subaru this week and try to further explore my options.

The movie itself was well done. It addressed the issue of food vs. fuel, and included information that biofuels can and should be made from more than one source, including micro-algae. The movie looked at the issue from the progressive environmental piece, as one might expect, but also addressed the issue of national security and the dangers of our reliance on foreign oil, especially in regards to our importing oil from the Middle East. I found myself touched by the impact that petrochemicals have had on the people who live near its processing areas to outraged over the abuses that the petrochemical industry has inflicted on the American people for the past 100+ years. Overall, an excellent film. I will definitely own it on dvd when it is released, and will likely by the 45 minute educational version once it is released as well in order to share it with my colleagues.

The man responsible for Fields of Fuel, Josh Tickell, was in attendance at the festival, so I got to meet him, which was pretty cool. (That’s who is standing next to me in the picture.) He was very personable, and you could tell that he takes this issue seriously, and with a passion that is infectious. I only was able to talk with him for a few minutes, but really enjoyed our conversation.

I also had the pleasure of hearing Peter Russell speak on Sunday night. He had some really interesting things to say about what he sees as our potential future on this planet, and I definitely want to pick up some of his books and likely a few of his movies as well. I particularly am drawn to his book The Global Brain, which has also been made into a movie, and while I’ve never read the book or seen the movie, I have added the book to my reading list… well, right now it’s on my “track this down and get it” list, but once I do get it, it goes on the “get cracking and read these books” shelf. (Okay, I admit, it’s actually the “get cracking and read these books” shelves, but you get the point.)

I’m really looking forward to next year’s festival. Kyle, Blake, and I have already decided that we want to be involved in it again next year. We had a great time and met some great people. Next: helping out with the Boulder Adventure Film Festival in November!

(Cross posted to

Monday, June 16, 2008


Finally did some yoga today... it had been a while since I'd done any, and it felt great. I'm definitely going to commit to making it a daily habit like I did last summer. It's much harder to do it every day during the school year, but there's no real excuse not to over the summer.

I downloaded some podcasts to my Zune yesterday; my next goal is to start experimenting with the Audacity software so that I can hit the ground running next year with my own podcasts. It really is my goal to have individual webpages for my classes, complete with podcasts. I'd put them up at the end of each day, and then take them down again on Sunday evening so as to not burn bandwidth. I figure if I leave them up until say, 10:00 on Sunday night, that should give my students plenty of time to listen to them/download them as needed. I'd take the notes down also since I'd also email them the notes anyway... hmm... seems redundant to post the notes and email them, so perhaps I'd email them the notes and then just post the podcasts. Either way, I'm really excited about it. (In case you couldn't tell... ha ha!)

Now if I could just find my climbing gear (it's buried in the garage somewhere), I could actually get out and climb!!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Stop, guac, and roll

Took a break from unpacking (will it never end?) to take a trip to Boulder for Boulder Park(ing) Spaces day. Basically the concept is that various businesses took a parking space (or two) and instead of using it for cars, they set up a park with some sort of theme or activity or whatever. There were dog parks set up, a yoga park (woohoo!)... all sorts of really cool things. My first stop of the day was at Full Cycle on Pearl St., where Chipotle was giving away cups of chips with guacamole... yay, free chips and guac!! :-D It was a lot of fun, and I had a great time cycling around Boulder, in spite of losing my front brakes when a part that helps with the cable failed... back to Bicycle Village for repairs when I hit the Farmers' Market tomorrow.

In other news, gas prices are really getting on my nerves. I fully intend to spend a LOT more time on my bike this summer, which is great, but gas prices are also going to cut into my climbing trips big time. I love climbing, and as a rule, I would try to go out at least 2-3 times a week over the summers, but with gas prices being what they are, it looks like a once a week trip is likely to be more realistic and financially feasible. *sigh* Of course, it will also encourage me to fulfill that goal of riding my bike to Boulder, so that's pretty cool, really. If/when I do that (part of that equation involves convincing Kyle to do it), I'll definitely do a post about the trip. Stay tuned!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Found Will Richardson's blog tonight (he's the author of the book we were given at training, just in case you forgot: Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for the Classroom). The link to it is here. His entry from a couple of days ago resonates with me a bit... he makes the point that education is fairly slow to respond to the changing technology, and I think that for the most part, that statement is true, and it's a real problem. Education should be on the forefront of these changes, not bringing up the rear and only because we are being dragged kicking and screaming into doing so. I can think of more than a few of my colleagues (and not just teachers within the district) who are downright Luddite when it comes to the most basic technology, even email. We are in a society where that is no longer acceptable. Ultimately, I feel that our job is to prepare young people for successful lives beyond high school, regardless of how that looks, and if we do not do so, then we are failing our students, their parents, and ourselves. The world of the 21st century is technology based and technology driven. If we don't embrace it, we are dooming our children to be left far, far behind.

(Cross posted to the Global Learner blog.)

Friday, June 6, 2008

The word of the day is "unicycle"

Today was my first "official" day of summer vacation, even though I still spent a good part of it discussing Global Learners and figuring out more ways to incorporate the technology into my classes. I figure that I'll take a "break" (I never really take a complete break from teaching... I spent part of my day today reading Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms by Will Richardson) for a couple of days, then plunge back into the technology I've recently been given and explore some of the sites I found during the training. I have a few lesson plans forming that I need to get down, and I'm thinking of going through for my own set of clickers, though we'll see about that. I'm more interested in the possibilities represented by WiziQ, blogs, podcasts, Smart Boards and Google docs. I'm thinking that I'll probably focus on those and make those my area of "expertise" at least for this year.

The big news was the new toy I picked up, courtesy of craigslist and $10... a spiffy unicycle. I have to admit that it's actually much harder to ride than I thought it might be, and definitely is going to help me work on my core strength. That being said, the thing is FUN. I actually was able to get going on it... for about six feet, which is my record so far.

A pretty fun way to start my summer.

Yeah, I look GOOD... well, I did for about six feet anyway.

The Matrix... unicycle style!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Global Learners Day Two... and I'm still sick...bleagh

You know, not feeling well isn't quite as enjoyable as you might think it would be. Stuffy head, sore throat, occasional cough, and two nights in a row of an elevated temperature just isn't as amusing as it might initially appear. Ah, well.

So... on to day two of the training. Today we learned about things like RSS feeds, Skype, Twitter, and a WiziQ, an online conferencing program that incorporates SmartBoard technology, which is pretty amazing stuff, really. I can't wait to use it next year.

One more day of training and my summer will officially begin. Of course, I'm still settling in, a process that has been rather slowed down by going in to work, so my goal of being done by the weekend won't quite happen. A lot has been done, however... the house is basically livable and just about everything has been put away in the kitchen, so we're back to eating at home instead of going out to eat so much. Next week I plan to get out on my bike and on the rocks as well, so I'll have plenty of pictures pretty soon. We even learned how to incorporate Picasa web slideshows, so once I nail down that process watch for some of those as well!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Day 1 of Global Learners training, and I'm pretty excited. For those that don't know, being a part of the program means I get all sorts of cool technological gadgets for my classroom, including a laptop, projector, etc. as well as several days of training in ways to better incorporate technology into my teaching. I've already gotten some nifty ideas, including changing up how journals are done in my classes. In my increasing effort to go paperless, I've decided that starting next year, rather than write journals in a notebook, my students will be required to create a blog using their school Gmail accounts and update those blogs at least once a week. I'll have guiding questions and word counts for them, but that's the basic plan for now. Being a part of the program also means that the other teachers on my team who have access to the same technology and I can plan cross-curricular lessons and "simul-teach" (yay! new word! Inspired by the word "simul-climbing" in rock climbing) students in each of our classes. Instead of just working with 25 or 30 students, I could work with all 100+ students, and so would the other teachers on the team. THIS is going to be FUN!!! (With sincere apologies to my students from the class of 2012 who won't get to take advantage of this kind of thing... don't worry, I still love you... well... maybe. Ha! ha! ha!) Seriously, though, it's too bad I hadn't thought of this last year or the year before last. Sorry, kids!

Two more days of training... we're going to be discussing blogs, wikis, podcasts, Twitter, Skype... all sorts of really cool things that I can't wait to use. Oh... for the members of 2012, I do have one consolation for you. Remember how I used to email you the class notes so you never missed a thing? Well, one of my goals for next year is to make podcasts of my classes, so students who are absent can log into their Gmail accounts, get the notes, AND listen to the class day that they missed. Not only will they not miss the notes, they won't really miss the class (and all of my super fantastic jokes)... how amazingly cool is THAT??? :-D

In other news, if it weren't for this stupid cold I have right now, things would be peachy. I was too tired and sick to even make dinner tonight, so Lamar and Blake made dinner for everyone. It was pretty tasty spaghetti, too, I have to admit. Not as good as mine, of course (ha! ha! ha!), but it was good... they did a great job.

Hmm... I think I'll make some tea with honey. Hope everyone is having an excellent summer. More soon!