Wednesday, July 29, 2009
"Traffic calming devices ahead." Hmmm...what could this mean? Shawn and I started brainstorming. What devices could possibly be used to calm the traffic? Zen-like meditation for cars? Yoga classes? Maybe the neighborhood pipes in Gregorian chant and plays it through loudspeakers set up next to the road. Aren't crystals supposed to give off a calming energy? Maybe these have been set up along the road. What do you think?
Frankly, we didn't see anything particularly "calming" in this neighborhood except some old trees which were kinda pretty. The road itself was kind of annoying with a bunch of speed bumps.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
However...starting late last week, the weather gurus around here started getting anxious. We've been getting weather alerts for close to a week now, letting us know that this area is in for "extreme heat." Yep...it got over 90 yesterday! Actually, the forecast is for high temps above 90 all this week, which is very unusual.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Friday night, Shawn and I had great seats...we were in the second row of the upper deck, right in line with the 3rd base line (draw a line from 3rd through home plate and just keep going up to the seats...that's where we were). The game didn't start until 10:10 EST, so unless the fans in Ohio stayed up pretty late, they missed a good game. The Indians beat the Mariners, 9-0!
Saturday was a day game, and our seats were in left field, about 10 feet inside the foul pole. For some stupid reason, this game was blacked out nationwide, so the only ones who could see it were those of us who were there! My brother even tried to watch it online and couldn't. We were in the sun the entire time, and it was really hot out, but it was still another great game. The Indians beat the Mariners, 10-3!
Safeco Field is a really pretty park. It was actually designed by the same guy who designed both Jacobs Field in Cleveland (I refuse to call it Progressive Field) and Coors Field in Denver. Here are a couple shots of the park.
So this weekend, I had the privilege of watching some great baseball with my wonderful husband, who cheered for the Indians with me. My team swept the Mariners by scoring 31 runs in 3 games, and we enjoyed a lot of good food. (I'll admit that the hot dogs at Safeco are the best I've ever had, and they also make some darn good garlic fries there!) It was a wonderful birthday present!! So what if I got it 9 months late? :-) Thanks, love!
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I actually applied for an online teaching position in late May or early June. I honestly don't remember if this is one of the online schools that I found through Craigslist (job posting) or if this is one of the schools I found by googling. Either way, I found the school and sent in my resume, and then I forgot about it until I got an email while I was in Colorado in early July. I had a phone interview on July 6th, and I thought it went really well. However, I didn't hear anything back until last Friday, when I got another email for a second phone interview. That interview took place on Monday, and it couldn't have gone better. We'd only been chatting for about 15 minutes when she let me know that, without even finishing the interview, she already knew she wanted to hire me. That was nice to hear. :)
I've already had a lot of questions about this job, so let me explain basically how it works. I'm not sure if this was just a conversation that teachers had, but do you remember probably 10 years ago when people started wondering if someday computers would replace teachers? There was talk that someday, everyone would just sit at home in front of their computer...the teacher would teach from home, and the students would watch on their monitor. Yeah...that's not how online teaching works, at least not usually. Instead, think of this as a sort of correspondence course entirely online. Students log on to a virtual classroom where they can see the syllabus. In any given unit, students will have some things that they need to do on their own (like reading a book or studying a website). They will also often need to submit homework assignments (like an essay or questions to answer); they will submit them by uploading them to the teacher's "inbox." Students may need to take a quiz or test, which they can do through the online virtual classroom. They can also be required to participate in an online "classroom" discussion, which takes place via message boards.
So where does the online teacher come in? I'm there to make sure the students are actively participating in the class. I'll be able to see how much time each student is spending "in" the virtual classroom. I'll also be available to answer students' questions via email or phone. And of course, I get to grade all their work and provide feedback on their assignments. If students are struggling to grasp the material, I can create and provide supplemental assignments to help them reach a better understanding.
I'm really excited about this opportunity. There are LOTS of reasons that a high school student might want to take an English class online, so this is an "industry" that is growing by leaps and bounds, and I'm getting in pretty much on the ground floor. Plus, I get to do the fun part of teaching (explaining things to students and providing feedback) without having to put up with a lot of the things that I dislike about teaching (like dealing with students who won't stop talking while I give instructions, or getting up before dawn to drive to work). And I can do it pretty much anywhere that will give me internet access! :)
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
In 1994, a terrible holocaust occurred in the tiny African country of Rwanda. There are two basic "tribes" of people in Rwanda...the Tutsis and the Hutus. There is a pretty involved back story here, but to keep this relatively short, you simply need to know that in April of 1994, the Hutus began killing the Tutsis. There was a lot of political influence and propaganda, and eventually, neighbors began turning on neighbors, and there was very little mercy shown. The goal of the Hutus was complete extermination of the Tutsis. Although the numbers aren't certain, it is estimated that in a period of just over 3 months, somewhere between 800,000 and one million Tutsi people were killed. Here's a wikipedia article that explains more detail, if you're interested.
Immaculee Ilibagiza is a Tutsi by ethnic heritage. She was raised in a devout Catholic home, and she had returned from her studies at the University for the Easter weekend when the killing began. Her parents sent her and her younger brother (and a friend of theirs) to the nearby home of a pastor to hide. Her brother and the friend had to leave the house, but Immaculee survived the genocide by hiding in a tiny bathroom at the pastor's house with seven other woman for 3 months. The pastor didn't tell anyone else in the house that the women were staying there, and he only fed them what he could manage without buying anything extra. While hiding in the bathroom, Immaculee spent her days praying.
This is an amazing story. There are parts of the book that are graphic, and yet the author writes without being gruesome. The things that the author experienced are absolutely horrific, and yet throughout her trials her faith in God actually grew stronger. This is definitely a book worth reading.
Friday, July 17, 2009
One of the things we decided to bid on was the last item of the night. We were both thinking that the biggest ticket item is usually left for last at an auction (right?), and there was no way we could afford what this item would go for. But wouldn't it be fun to say we bid on it? As the auction progressed, we were amazed at the amounts some of the items were going for. To put this in perspective, our "maximum bid" for the last item of the night was less than what a Cajun dinner for 8 went for ($2400) or what a relatively small stained glass window went for ($1800).
When the bidding started for this last item, there were quite a few who offered at the opening bid, but it quickly dwindled to just Shawn against another guy. The bidding went quickly, up by $100 at a time, back and forth. Shawn bid what we had agreed would be our maximum bid, fully expecting the other guy to bid the next amount.....but the bidding fell silent. And we won!
So what did we win? A 7-night stay at a beachfront condo in MAUI!!! Holy cow!!!! As soon as the auctioneer declared Shawn the winning bidder, I think we looked at each other and quickly said, "What did we just do?!"
Fortunately, plane tickets to Hawaii from Seattle really aren't all that expensive. In fact, it's probably cheaper (most times of the year) to fly to Hawaii than it is to fly to Ohio to visit my parents. I booked our flights this afternoon, and although it cost a bit more than I was hoping, it really wasn't bad at all. So in about six weeks, we'll be going to Maui!
I'm really excited for this. Shawn has been to Hawaii before (I think a couple times, actually), but I've never been. For awhile now, it's been on my list of places that I'd really like to go. (Just to prove it, check out this list I made in March...Hawaii is on there.) This was definitely an impulse buy, and had we really taken our time to think about it, we probably wouldn't have bid on this item (just to save money, especially after all our travels already this summer). But hey...it is something we knew we'd enjoy, and how often in our lives will we genuinely be able to afford a beachfront condo in Maui? We got it for less than it's technically worth. And frankly, it's really nice to know that since the owner of the condo donated this week to the auction, our good chunk of money is actually going to a very worthy cause...and we just happen to get an awesome vacation out of it! :)
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I, on the other hand, had a nice, social day! In the young adults group we've gotten involved with at church, the other women and I have realized that none of us are working right now. There are six girls who either are currently unemployed, are teachers (or are currently unemployed teachers), or have recently had a baby. So we've decided that we should start doing things together during the day while our husbands are all at work.
Today, four of us started off by meeting in Ballard for cupcakes at Cupcake Royale! I love this place. Today, I had the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, and I also had a "babycake" (a mini cupcake) that was vanilla cake with strawberry buttercream frosting. The frosting actually was made with locally grown strawberries...yum! The other three girls had never been to the bakery, so I was glad they all enjoyed it.
Then we headed over to Green Lake, where two more girls met us. It was beautiful and sunny today, and warmer than it's been in at least a week. The six of us walked around the lake, which is about 3 miles. It took longer than I expected since the various moms had to stop on occasion for feedings, diaper changes, putting babies into strollers, taking babies out of strollers...you get the idea. :)
By the time I headed home, my legs were a little tired and my shoulders were sunburned...but I had good conversations with some good, new friends. It was a good day!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Dragonfly in Amber is the second book in the Outlander series. I first heard about the series last fall, when I was chatting with girls on the Book Club board of TheNest.com. I read Outlander in February, and I absolutely loved it. Here's the post I wrote about the book then.
A large portion of Dragonfly in Amber actually takes place in France, which, for some reason, I wasn't expecting. It was still a well-written story, and this part of the plot was intriguing. However, I missed the "magic" of Scotland that was present in the first book. So I'll admit...I was thrilled when they eventually went back, even though I knew it was dangerous for them.
For much of the first book, Jamie didn't know that Claire was actually from the future (1945). However, in this book, he knows. So it's interesting to see what they choose to do (or not do) with the information that she knows from her history books.
If you haven't read the Outlander series, I highly recommend it. Just be prepared, though, for the occasional gruesome details of 18th century battle, death, and destruction. :) I'm very excited to read book #3 (Voyager). I just requested it from the library...and even though it was published in 1994, I'm number 20 on the holds list (and the library owns 7 copies of it).
Friday, July 10, 2009
Anyways...Katie and I flew in to St. Louis on Thursday. While checking in to my hotel room, I learned that Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson had both died. Rest assured that MJ "tributes" and references abounded all weekend long. Then Katie and I headed over to Shannon's parents' house for a HUGE family/out-of-town-friends barbeque. Jane and Shannon were both there, so the Hydra was almost complete! I had planned to leave at some point to pick up Rachel and her husband from the airport...but the poor things missed their connecting flight and had to spend the night in Memphis. Regardless, Thursday night was a great time to start catching up with my friends (and their family members) that I hadn't seen in awhile.
Shawn and I picked one pod yesterday, just to see if we were correct in thinking it was ready...and it was yummy! Here are pod #2 and #3 that I just picked this morning!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I read this book while I was on vacation, and it actually took me the entire two and a half weeks to get through it. I don't think that had anything to do with the book...I just tend not to read much while I'm traveling. That being said, I read it for a new book club I'm hoping to start attending. The meeting about this book actually met last night, and I ended up not going. The friend who invited me wasn't going to be able to go, and honestly, a night just sitting at home sounded really good yesterday.
As you can see by the title, this book claims to be a true story. I'm not 100% convinced that it's entirely true, but it's definitely an amazing story if it is. (Anyone know if it's honestly a true story?) It is written by Ralph Helfer, who is an exotic animal trainer, and this is supposed to be the back story of an elephant he eventually acquired.
The book tells the story of Modoc, the elephant, and Bram Gunterstein. Bram's father was the elephant trainer for a circus in Germany, and Modoc and Bram were born on the same day. Because of this, Bram was literally raised around Modoc. When Bram was a teenager, the circus was sold to an American, and Bram stowed away on the ship that was taking the animals to the U.S. so that he could stay with Modoc. As the book progresses, the journey of Bram and Modoc is an amazing one. Together, they manage to survive shipwreck, thieves, murders, and civil war.
I did like this book, but it wasn't my favorite. I think I would've liked it better if I'd read it faster, instead of breaking it up into small sections like I did (and spread out over more than two weeks). I felt that the author didn't do a very good job of allowing the reader to get a sense of the time that was passing. For example, in one part of the book, Bram and Modoc are living in a village in India. It feels like they're only there a few weeks, but the author casually mentions at one point that they'd been there for over five years. The author has the same problem with Bram aging. For most of the book, Bram seemed to be portrayed as a teenager. Then there seems to be an abrupt shift in his personality, and it was then that I realized that he was probably decades older than I was picturing.
This would have been an interesting book to discuss with a book club, as I would be interested to hear what others thought of it. I'd also like to know if others had the same issues with the author's style that I did.
Over the next week or two, I'll work on some posts that will show pictures of some of the things we did while on vacation. But just to recap...Shawn and I left on Wednesday, June 17th. We flew overnight, arriving in Raleigh, North Carolina, around 9:30am on Thursday, June 18th. After celebrating my brother's wedding that weekend, Shawn flew back to Seattle that Sunday. I, however, drove with my parents and my 3-year old niece to NE Ohio. Shawn spent most of that week at home, working, while I hung out with my family and saw some friends in Ohio. On Thursday, June 25th, I flew (with my friend Katie) to St. Louis. Shawn met me there early Friday morning (after taking yet another overnight flight). We spent the weekend there, hanging out with my college friends and attending a fun wedding. Early that Sunday morning (after 3 hours of sleep), Shawn and I flew from St. Louis to Denver, where we spent the next week enjoying the mountains and spending time with lots of friends and family.
And now we're home. :) The whole trip was definitely tiring at times, but overall, I'm glad we did it this way. It was actually cheaper for us, since we only needed to buy one-way tickets for me instead of round-trip tickets. We got to see LOTS of people in one big trip instead of trying to remember who we did or did not see in lots of little trips. While we were gone, we think that most of the fish survived (although I still can't find the ghost catfish...); however, we're not sure that our garden will survive. We kind of forgot to have someone come over to water everything, so things are looking a bit crispy. I have high hopes for the tomato plant (there is actually a small tomato currently growing), and I'm crossing my fingers for the peas (since we already have a dozen or so pods growing), but I'm not going to hold my breath for the carrots. I'll let you know what happens. :)
Friday, July 3, 2009
For dessert, Shawn and I split the "Cake and Shake." It's a big piece of triple layer chocolate cake with chocolate icing, and a mini milkshake (we chose chocolate...should've gone with vanilla). It was awesome! Again, we didn't take this picture...I found it on flickr.