Monday, November 30, 2009

Reflection: Once More You Open the Door

I knew that it existed -- that old FujiFilm camera with the film not yet developed -- and today I took it to Bartell's. When I went to collect it, the attendant greeted me with, "You have a beautiful cat." That was not such a painful moment as it might seem, as I knew quite well (or at least had a deep suspicion) that Maui appeared in those pictures. What I'd doubted was whether the film, kept nearly a year past its "Develop by" date, would produce discernible images.

Most of the pictures were discernible and something beyond discernible; it was one of the most stunning collections of images Bartell's (or Walgreen's) has ever handed me. There were things I didn't remember until they stared back at me. I've thought to do another verse of "Time After Time" (with more faces from co-op days), and there's fodder for that project as well.

Other pictures were less potent emotionally, but still good illustration material. Speaking of which: At Madrona Grocery Outlet -- I still go there in daylight hours -- I found, for eight dollars, a package of three disposable FujiFilm cameras...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Memory: Snow in Ravenna Creek Ravine

These snow scenes were taken in previous years -- though something gloppy did fall on me the other day. (Whatever it was, it became quite wet when it hit the sidewalk.) I have a couple versions, set to different snippets of music, and I'm not sure which I prefer. I did figure out how to add these little pieces to my Squisoo pages -- there are a couple extra steps to complete. I think I also know how to add musical slideshows to Blogger as widgets on the sidebar... though my teaching blog actually made a snide remark the other day about this blog's attire. "Just because you own it," it cautioned, "it doesn't mean you need to wear it all at once."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Reflection: Using Love and Logic With Your Blog

As I noted before, on eduFire one can teach just about anything that's legal. I was thinking about doing a follow-up to the free "Upload Yourself to the Internet" class: one that focused specifically on Blogger. I was also thinking about the connection between raising a blog and raising a kid. Things to consider when raising a blog: helping your blog make friends -- and helping your blog find and articulate its values, resist peer pressure, and discover social service opportunities... Of course there's also the 'Link Within' widget, and other fun educational games you can play with your blog.

I have training in a classroom management system called Love and Logic. At first, I couldn't think of any connection between Love and Logic and raising a Blogspot blog. Then I thought of something. In Love and Logic, you're supposed to give I-messages instead of "Don't" messages; for instance, you might say, "I am now passing out construction paper to the children who are sitting quietly." Well, I'm thinking one might say to their their blog, "I am now passing out links to those websites that are following editorial guidelines."
The thing is, though, that if I were to say that to this blog, it would likely just think, "Oh, now she's passing out links to those websites that are following editorial guidelines," and continue with whatever it was doing. It has some motivation to help out my other sites -- up to a point. It is very willing, though, to bypass having the other sites link to it -- so that it can have more liberties when it comes to doing its own thing. Well, that gets to one of the deeper tenets of Love and Logic. We may give rewards or consequencess based on what we think we know about what motivates 'kids' or what motivates 'people' -- but some won't respond to those things. (Just as some blogs aren't motivated by SEO.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Reflection: The College Board Won't Test Your Pet...

... even if she shows up at the testing center with two forms of ID.

The following paragraphs also appear in my new Squidoo, which I will post the link to later. This is the most entertaining section (assuming that you're just looking for a 'reflection' and are not actually taking the CLEP yourself). Here goes:

"I came across this well written and humorous article a few months back. Wanting to expose 'diploma mills' -- fraudulent online programs -- Kevin Collins, CEO of the Better Business Burea of Central Georgia, had a novel idea. He helped his cat earn her high school diploma.

The article does go on to note that the company Collins exposed was in no way affiliated with the GED, a legitimate program.

The CLEP is another legitimate program -- it's managed by the College Board. The company I work with, eduFire , is also on the up and up. EduFire uses experienced teachers to help students prepare for CLEP examinations. The instructors post standards and prerequisites. They will not work with your cat on webcam. (Moreover, the College Board will not test your cat, even if she shows up at the testing center with two forms of ID.)

Click here to read an article by the eduFire CEO: "Education: My Fundamental Value".

Monday, November 23, 2009

Reflection: Dreams Ablaze

This blog has 69 posts. The teaching blog, begun 2 1/2 weeks later, has 19. Only three blog posts contain blocks of shared content. This is the 3rd of those posts -- and if you know me, you may recognize that the voice here is just a bit different. This bit of news was first reported by the teacher persona:

"...It’s been a couple weeks since I updated this blog – busy weeks, both online and off. I’m honored to be a part of the eduFire CLEP team, one of six people who spent this past week writing a syllabus and planning a curriculum. There we were: two in the US, two in the UK, one in Bolivia, and one in India, separated by oceans, but united by a wiki, a platform, and a vision. When the team leader unveiled his design for class avatars, several of us were together, commenting in ‘real time’.

I am linking to the official eduFire blog announcement, in which CEO Jon Bischke explains how the CLEP program relates to his original mission of reaching out across cyberspace to those who, for economic or geographic reasons, have been denied educational opportunities. That includes so many people right here in this nation!

The CLEP examinations have helped many students graduate from college in a shorter time frame and (importantly!) with less debt. EduFire is offering support for six subjects...

If you’ve read my posts before, you’ve probably guessed that my subject is English Composition. Oh yes, I do believe education can transform lives… and so can words. I am linking also to a short passage from one of my published pieces. It’s about my mother – born in rural Kentucky in abject poverty – and how she graduated from high school at sixteen, and put herself through college.

Here’s another tidbit about my mother. She was editor of the Baylor Lariot in the pre- civil rights era. Decades later, she showed me the piece she was most proud of. Ah, and you might guess, too, what she wrote about — there’s a hint in this paragraph. And in this post, you can see her, two decades before my birth, dreams ablaze in her eyes."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In-Between Reflection: U-District Serenade?

I have always sung to myself, under my breath, as I'm walking around. I've been doing it so long that I generally just take for granted that nobody can hear me. I wonder if I was audible this evening. A couple people looked back at me and laughed. A quick scan revealed that my fly was zipped, and there was no toilet paper attached to my boots... so I'm guessing probably I was audible.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Reflection: With Apologies to Journey...

And now I've turrned to you-u with O-open Office... (Don't worry, I won't do a video for that one.) Several of my colleagues were discussing, in a forum thread, how to move presentation slides from one type of file to another (ie PPt, Adobe, Open Office) without losing formatting. Turns out... if you save a slide as a PNG, you can't alter it -- it's permanent -- but you sure can preserve it! You can almost see the lacquer, preserving the text as image, holding the formatting inside.

Ah, so here's another metaphor: Some files are designed for flexibility at the expense of stability, while others are designed for stability at the expense of flexibility. So it is, too, with people. Me, I'm of course hyperstable, abnormally so. I can be uploaded, downloaded, imported, exported, all with no change in formatting, no loss of emotion or memory. Some people are the opposite: They're remarkably easily to work with, from an editing standpoint, yet others are oft left wondering where the formatting went.
(Nothing to hide, believe what I say, 'cause here I amm, with O-open Office...)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Reflection: All Things, Strong and Fragile

That's my mother on a mule. She was a bilingual flight attendant in the years before I was born. I used her picture on a slide in the online class I taught last night; the particular slide was about which languages are supported by the knol platform. I'm not including the slide itself as a picture, even though it's in png form; it's a big file so it uses so much more space to host it. (If all my pictures were that size, it would still take about 500 posts to use up the picture hosting capacity Google has alloted me -- ah but, like most things I do, I am in this for the very long haul!)

The 'CLEP channel' will be launched next week on a particular e-learning platform. There are six of us -- two in the US, two in the UK, one in Bolivia and one in India -- holed up with our computers, writing CLEP prep syllabi, each responsible for a subject, but collaborating by wiki... It's pleasant work. It always amazes me how so much of the world assumes that it's the unknown that causes anxiety. I experience very little fear of the unknown, and am pretty low, too, when it comes to performance-based anxiety. Oh no, it's the people I love that cause pain and fear, that turn me into the kind of glass ornament you see in kiosks before Christmas. Does that mean I don't want them in my life? Heavens, no! -- glass is beautiful, and some is priceless. Says The Little Prince: "You run the risk of tears when you let yourself be tamed". There are moments when it does behoove me to leave my phone off the hook while I concentrate on some "matter of consequence" (I take for granted that my performance will be high if I shut out all incoming news) but the phone will go back on soon.

The song that's playing in my head is "The Riddle" aka "There's a reason for..."

PS Just edited this -- The Little Prince discusses "matters of consequence" not "matters of nonsequence". (Then again...)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Reflection: Trying to Set a City to Music

This little clip was not included in my Seattle Squidoo Page(though eventually I will put one in). I selected a song clip that I thought was appropriate for a piece about a place, though the line "Time and time again, I've watched you sleep," did give me slight pause. It gave me more pause when... well, I'd included, amidst the nature photos, a picture of 45th Ave, with Seattle's Best Coffee in the background and a "Don't Cross Here: Use Crosswalk" sign in the foreground. On the line, "I've watched you sleep," what do you know, that picture appeared, and I won't go so far as to say that the sign got up in my face, but it did move forward a bit.

This is how the program works: I put the photos in order, and, after analyzing the pictures and audio, Animoto does the animations and transitions. Our combined artistry was lower on this piece, but I'm fond of listening to it, nonetheless. I may have enough photos of Ravenna Park in the snow to do that as its own 30 second video. Theoretically, I can put it onto Squidoo.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reflection: Sometimes You Picture Me...

Verse 2 of "Time After Time" begins "Sometimes you picture me..." I imagine a lot of people do picture me sitting in more or less the pose captured in that old photograph. People remarked upon the posture often during the days of co-op (group) living; I think it was just once that someone actually snapped a Polaroid and gave it to me. Body language... it's gotten better in the years since childhood. I watched a little girl in a video, trying to make the gesture, long distance, of embracing someone. That child folded and unfolded her arms several times because she genuinely couldn't figure out which way the arms were supposed to fit together. How well I remember. I remember, too, at twelve or thirteen, puzzling over something. I knew that people generally turned toward a person to smile at them, but I sometimes turned away. I couldn't figure out why I would pivot in the wrong direction. I knew the difference between turning toward a stimulus and turning away -- but that didn't mean my body could differentiate, in a split second, between the two. There were years of my life people were certain I'd been molested. Sure, I came from a family where there was little physical contact, but I was also a child whose body couldn't distinguish 'toward' from 'away', much less how and when to fold itself. There were things that didn't help: the constant apologies that well-meaning others would make for frightening me (when I wasn't even frightened) or the way, when I turned away, the world seemed to, as well.
I'm studying this post much as the man in the photo is studying the picture before him. Will I upload this to the internet? I reckon so. The internet is handy for the likes of me. See, no one can upload their whole body to the internet, and when it comes to those media that can actually be uploaded, I think I express myself.
PS The picture was created by scanning that old Polaroid and uploading it into a frame on the 'Image Chef' site. You gotta kind of hand it to 'em on that one.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Reflection: In Seattle and Online

My "Step Into Seattle" lens. It debuted last night at number 800-and-something thousand (I guess that's how many pages there are on Squidoo!)... but it's got ambitions. I took some creative liberties with this one. Amidst the more pragmatic and informative stuff, I have snippets of the 'Steve Salamander' Seattle piece (written and audio versions) and various pictures, including a photo nature slideshow.
Seattle is still a beautiful city... It's been a painful couple of years, and, yes, it's reflected in my finances, but it's not something I spend a lot of time fretting about. I figure 1) I'll survive and 2)I've got more pressing things to fret about. Why spend time fretting about money if one doesn't have a loved one needing bunches of it for their survival/security?
It looks like I'll be getting an eduFire CLEP English composition course. I've mentioned the eduFire e-learning platform before -- a good site. One can use their platform to teach just about anything that's legal, but certain areas do have an application process, and those tend to be ones that are more lucrative, and that the company is really promoting. They want their CLEP courses run something like real-world test prep courses, with a detailed syllabus, and enough homework to really push people to achieve.
The class I'm teaching on eduFire this next week is more of a for-fun thing. A lot of teachers teach free classes as they're establishing themselves (and sometimes beyond). This one is about freelancing. I called it "Upload Yourself to the Internet" -- that's something that I do indeed do on a regular basis...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reflection: Okay, I Sang It...

Here's another Animoto short: verse 1 of the "Time After Time" project I was talking about. Okay, I did end up singing it! The artist is listed as "I'm singing rather poorly" -- but this is really for just a few people, and I think they'll see why I'm proud of the piece regardless.

I mentioned before... The "Thinking of You" card that appears in here was given to me by my friend, Bette.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Reflection: My Purse (Is Small, I Know...)

My purse is small, I know, but it is not yours, it is my own... Addendum to an earlier post: At the Madrona Grocery Outlet on Saturday, "My hands are small, I know," was playing -- not just going 'round my head, this time, but blasting forth from the loudspeaker. On the way back, I was accosted again -- yes, a second time on that same stretch of Union. It gets dark early these days, and I did have a moment's hesitation before heading to Madrona. Before going out, I'd removed all the photographs from my purse (photos from scanning projects done and undone) -- because I'd had this thought that if someone were to go after my purse again there on Union, I didn't want to lose those pictures. Isn't it interesting that, in that brief flash of premonition, it was the pictures that I felt the need to protect?

There I was in the bike lane on the other side of the row of parked cars -- the most lit area --carrying the purse under my arm and close to my body. Two young men sprung at me, both tugging hard on the purse. I shrieked at the top of my voice, and they let go and darted off into a side street. They were no more than teenagers (probably) this time, and I guess they thought they could peel the purse off me and be gone before I knew what hit.

I think it finally has been impressed upon me that that it's unwise to walk that stretch of Union in less than full daylight. But physiological fear from the encounter did not remain with me. My mind was its normal self (normal for me) before I hit 23rd. And my thoughts and fears were... well, the same thoughts and fears they always are.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Reflection: Mauicat Tribute

This little music video "Mauicat Tribute" was easy to make, using a site called Animoto, and some pictures. I'll add it to Maui's Squidoo page later -- that looks doable.
Maui's Squidoo

Create your own video slideshow at


Friday, November 6, 2009

Reflection:...Hear the Clock Tick, and I Think of You...

The card pictured here -- "Thinking of You" -- was given to me by my friend Bette when I came to Seattle. It was one of several things that I scanned for use in a particular project. I decided a while back that I wanted to do a homemade video -- I want to open up, in Windows on my computer screen, faces and places from long-ago co-op days, all to the tune of the song "Time After Time". (The idea grew from a play on words in an earlier post: "You're watching through Windows, you're wondering if I'm okay...")

Well, my free Jing program allows me to record five minutes of screen capture as video, and it will also record whatever audio... that I record into the microphone. Hmmm... It was not actually my intent to sing the song myself; it's not something I was cut out to do...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Reflection: Linking to My Writings...

What was it that caused me to mistitle "The Mill Wheel in Motion" as "The Mill Creek in Motion"? Was it that I really do prefer my creek? I did put in an application to -- the very day I said I wasn't going to do it, after wrtiting this short piece about the daylighting of Ravenna creek. It could take as long as 8 weeks to hear back from them, and I don't actually know what stage in the process they're at -- I believe "Seattle/Tacoma" will be posted as open til they've hired someone. Well -- I can always turn Seattle into a Squidoo page... or two. I just began, yesterday, to involve myself with the Squidoo community, to post on the forums, and leave comments on other's pages... And I wrote about MauiCat. Portions of the piece were adapted from this blog.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Reflection: Our Motions

Sitting on an airplane, I passed a book of writing prompts to a friend. He selected the prompt, "Describe how you move," but instead of describing his physical movement through space, he wrote an extended metaphor. He declared himself a squiggle. Yes, I had caught glimpses of that squiggly line, but I thought instead of a zig zag; it moves at a good clip until it smacks -- Thunk! Ouch! -- into an obstacle, and then richochets at a wide angle.

Physically, I have a tendency to zig zag, or swerve, from side to side on the sidewalk. I have tried to watch that habit -- and minimize it -- ever since it was brought to my attention in college. (Evidently people found it difficult to walk alongside me without being rammed off the sidewalk.) Metaphorically, though, I am the straightest line you'll ever meet. When I come to a wall, I may do one of several things, including sit down in front of it and cry. After a time, the tears start to dry, but I still sit by that wall, contemplating all possible motions.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Memory: My Hands (Are Small I Know...)

I don't think I was intentionally clowning around in this old photograph; my hands were simply making themselves comfortable by hitching a ride. I have a batch of pictures, taken when I was about four, and in shot after shot, those hands steal the show. I don't have many old photos -- I don't know what my brother did (or did not do) with the pictures that remained in the apartment after my father died. I'm glad that I do have this batch. There is an odd rhyme that I made up when I was a child: "Goodness knows, the puppy's pose/It's more to life than what it knows." Indeed. It may be that those hands (and arms) are a clue to the things I was diagnosed with and the things I never was. It may be that my posture (and few people who've met me have failed to note the posture!) is a clue as to genetics. Time will answer.

I wrote in an earlier post (Modeling the Latest in Hypertonic Arm Posture) how people have often interpreted the arms-drawn-up-to-the-chest posture as fearful. But in multiple pictures, you can find a bright, laughing four-year-old with her arms drawn up like a chipmunk -- it's indicative merely of muscle tone. Hand wringing is also a neurological thing. It's no sign of distress, but it can be a source of distress when people misinterpret it. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but my body language has often caused people to invent some other person, with an entirely different set of strengths and weaknesses.

Walking near Madrona Grocery Outlet -- the area where I was once grabbed and robbed -- I find myself singing, "My hands are small, I know, but they're not yours, they are my own." In some ways that song may not seem to fit me. Ah, but it's my heart that I give away to other people! My hands are, and always have been, my own.