Archive for the ‘free advertising’ Category

Surly

20 August 2012

I spend a lot of time on Twitter, mostly reading what science teachers and science-y people have to say. A few days ago Jennifer Ouelette (@JenLucPiquant on Twitter) linked to a post about things happening in the atheist/skeptic community, which I am not a part of and don’t follow. I read it anyway, and I got really annoyed. Not only are some people jerks and trolls on the internet behind the safety of a pseudonym, but there are apparently also a**holes in real life as well. For no good reason, a woman known as Surly Amy was harassed at a conference and some people actually went so far as to try to harm her business.

The issue? Apparently sexual harassment occurs at conferences and women who speak up about it deserve to be harassed even more.

Seriously?

I immediately went to Surly Amy’s Etsy store and bought a necklace.

In case you can’t read it, it says “LEARN Something New Every Day.” which of course is one of my major ways I try to live my life.

I also wrote Surly Amy a note of support in the “message to seller” that you can write in when you buy things through Etsy, so she would know why I decided to buy this necklace. So, now I think you should check out Surly-Ramics here and on Etsy and maybe buy something for the science nerd/gamer/atheist/skeptic/Unitarian Universalist (yes, she does chalice jewelry!) in your life! Great gifts at a decent price! Also, you can follow Amy on Twitter (@SurlyAmy) and read her blog posts.

 

Teach

1 October 2010

Here I am, on Friday night, awake at 9 PM.  I am waiting to watch Teach: Tony Danza, a reality show starring Tony Danza, which starts at 10 PM on A&E.  In it, Tony Danza (former boxer, sitcom actor, and sometime talk show host) teaches 10th-grade English at Northeast Philadelphia High School (Home of the Vikings), a huge comprehensive high school in the Northeast section of Philadelphia (go figure).

After teaching part time for a semester at an Orthodox Jewish school and full time for a semester at a high school in Southeast Philadelphia (simultaneously), I was once a new (and still very inexperienced) teacher at a huge comprehensive high school in Philadelphia’s Northeast section.  I walked into a classroom as a white chick from someplace else with an ideal of making the world a better place.  I got back suspicion, attitude, and eventually respect.  And I now teach at a large comprehensive high school named after a compass point and with sports teams called the Vikings (though two counties West of Northeast Philadelphia High School.)

I want to watch it happen to Tony Danza.  Because I was him, only younger and female.  Because I feel like I know those kids, despite being separated by fifteen years and thirty miles.  Because even though he’s at a different school than I was (there are nearly 30 high schools in Philadelphia) and I was never an actor and never won an Emmy, I remember the feeling of responsibility, of terror, and eventually of triumph.

I’m curious about what they will show outside of the classroom.  Mornings sitting in the bathroom feeling sick?  Crying at night?  Mountains of papers to grade, piles of IEP’s to read and obey,  administrators quick to criticize?

Will they show disobedient kids mouthing off or threatening Danza?  Will anyone scream in Danza’s face that he’s an f***ing nut?  Will all the kids even show up to class?  Will they make fun of him behind his back and mimic him in mocking tones?  Or will the cameras change the behavior of the kids (and administrators)?

I have to stay awake!

UPDATES:

Wow.  Right off the bat, first day, Danza gets scolded by an administrator for not signing in on time.  When I taught in Philadelphia some administrators were notorious for watching the clock and checking the sign-in sheets.

I liked that he had a “Do Now” on the board when the kids came into class.  It didn’t look like anyone did the “Do Now,” however.

Good job with “the bell doesn’t dismiss you, I dismiss you.”

I love that a kid predicts that Danza will wind up “flipping out.”

I hope that he didn’t bump out some other teacher as assistant football coach.  That seems unfair.

I’m recognizing the self-doubt.  “I don’t know if I can do this.”  “You think you know so much and then you find out you don’t know nothin’.”

I was sorry for the teacher stuck in there observing Danza.  According to state law there must be a certificated teacher in a classroom, which is why student teachers can’t be alone in a classroom and why sometimes I’ve been assigned “coverage” in my school’s testing room for kids with IEPs…while there is a full-time aide, she doesn’t have a teaching certificate.

“This is the hardest job I’ve ever had.”

I could really feel it when Danza commented on the pressure: from parents, kids, administrators, and himself.

They still use chalk at Northeast High School as of last year.

Maker Faire!

26 September 2010

My ticket and the map I printed out

I have wanted to go to Maker Faire ever since I first heard about it.  I’ve been a subscriber to Make: magazine for three and a half years, now, and while I haven’t done very many of the projects I have been inspired and enthused by reading about them!  Make: magazine comes from O’Reilly media and for several years has been sponsoring Maker Faires in faraway places like Texas and California.  So when I found out that there would be one in New York City (specifically, in Queens), I immediately made plans to attend.


Two-person pedal-powered ferris wheel

Well, that was yesterday.  I drove up with an interesting guy who does science parties and teacher trainings, Ken Fink of Wondergy.  He was a helpful navigator (it is always a challenge to find my way to a new place…can’t easily read my Google Maps driving directions AND watch the road!) and good nerdy conversationalist.  We arrived, presented our tickets, and entered wonderland.


Mathematica temporary tattoo

The first area I entered had tents with fabricators (shopbot, home plastic vacuum forming, CNCdevices (think home-accessible 3-D printing, though still pricey), instructional areas (lockpicking, soldering), and various commercial interests (Ford, Wolfram, US Patent Office).  MakerShed was there (the Make: magazine store, full of books, kits, parts, more learn-to-solder stations, etc) and there was a beer tent and a giant version of that old “Moustrap” board game.  Plus a two-person pedal-powered ferris wheel and a pedal-powered electric guitar windmill tower.  I got a Wolfram Mathematica temporary tattoo (almost gone now, actually) and entered a query into Wolfram Alpha to receive a deck of WolframResearch playing cards!  I did not bother to learn lockpicking.  It’s not something I feel I need to know right now.


Garden indoors with a setup like this in a window

I then wandered over into a large parking lot (for the NY Hall of Science) where I found an area of recycling/composting/indoor gardening booths, and a bunch of big tents set up.  I wandered through one, finding things like nixie-tube sudoku; beautiful brass, steel, and wood electrostatics demonstration equipment; musical instruments played by pulling on ropes or powered by arduinos; and Cooper Union students showing off their chemically-powered robotic vehicle.  I stopped at the booth where a guy from the UK was teaching surface-mount soldering on a scrolling digital name badge powered by arduino.  Free to learn, $20 to keep.  Of course I made one!  We didn’t use soldering irons for the surface-mount work, instead we used these nifty little butane-powered heat guns – I will have to get one if I ever get more into surface-mount work, though that seems unlikely at this time.  I have no particular need to work with components that tiny and hard to see (I didn’t even think to bring my reading glasses, though I had my own safely goggles!)

What a beautiful electroscope!

Every so often, it became impossible to hear anyone who was talking to you because of the rocket ponies ride from the Madagascar Institute.

I wandered a little more before deciding I was hungry, so I bought a plate of paella.  It was huge, and included huge prawns which I had difficulty eating.  My parents know I can’t deal with soft-shelled crab, the one time I had Maine lobster my friend Line kindly extracted the meat for me, and in general if it still has a head on it I can’t eat it.  But the rest of it was delicious!  I couldn’t finish it, though.

Windell, me, and Lenore

After lunch I found my way inside the NY Hall of Science, where I finally met Lenore and Windell of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.  I’ve been a fan of their blog for a few years, and once got a lot of traffic on this blog when they linked to my “Cheer Up” post featuring the fish-shaped ice cream sandwich.  I have made their bulbdial clock kit (lots of soldering – the normal kind – which I love) and I have placed their egg-bot kit on my wish list.

Some things an egg-bot can do

There were also a couple of guys with an amazing machine which shoots little balls through holes in rotating disks…amazing!  I met a Mexican guy who has set up a knowledge exchange (“Will trade my brain for info“) and who gave me a linoleum print, and bought a Nikola Tesla poster from the Tesla Wardenclyffe Project.  Woot!  Several people or groups had brought interactive art installations, like a ferro-fluid puddle with an upper and lower adjustable magnet, and a large screen which would display a splotch of spilled letters when hit by a thrown book.  And all over the place there were kids involved, learning to take stuff apart (there was a small room dedicated to deconstruction) and put stuff together and to be creative.  That was beautiful!

I should have taken a photo of the other side, so you can see how nice the stockinette stiching is

Then I went back outdoors and entered the Craft tent.  I was immediately asked if I knew how to knit or crochet.  When I answered no, I was asked which I would like to learn, and was seated next to a very patient woman, handed a thingy of yarn and a pair of 6.0 mm (U.S. 10) needles, and taught to knit and purl, do stockinette and make ribbing.  Wow!  Then, I was given the remaining yarn and the needles to KEEP!  Sweet!)  Later, I signed up to win a $500 gift certificate for personalized designed furniture, learned about using resin to make jewelry, and saw some people who were all about making stuff out of cardboard.  Just outside the tent was a car covered with a knitted “pseudo-sod” car cover, that had taken the artist a year to make!

Pseudo-sod car cover

Later, I wandered through a craft-vendor area, where I found everything from Martha Stewart Living to a woman offering crafts made from yogurt containers and plastic bags.  She let me make a little plastic skull with her stuff, which can be a magnet or a brooch, depending on what I decide to attach to the back.  There were lots of t-shirts for sale, jewelry, some pottery and ceramics, and even food vendors (artisan ice cream and chocolate).  I’ve been going to craft fairs since I was very young, and of course I bought things.  A barrette that spells out “NERD” in scrabble tiles, a headband of block-printed, layered and stitched felt, a print touting the “tofu revolution,” and some greeting cards made with the pages of an old children’s encyclopedia.  I did not go back for the chocolate because I decided to catch the last performance by ArcAttack at the end of the day.


Sweet! He's wearing a browncoat t-shirt under his chainmail!

ArcAttack?  They’re the guys who make music by vibrating the air with sparking tesla coils.  They wear head-to-toe chainmail so that they are protected by personal mobile Faraday cages.  If you ever get a chance to experience their performance, do it!

Note: more photos are on my Flickr.

Also, here are all the video links:
pedal-powered ferris wheel
electrostatics demonstration equipment
powered by arduinos
rocket ponies
amazing machine
ferro-fluid puddle


Learning while listening Part 2

31 May 2010

I’ve been spending a lot of hours walking.  A LOT of hours.  I’ve walked over 150 miles in training for the 3-Day, and at three to three-and-a-half miles per hour, that’s between 40 and 50 hours.  Mostly, I’ve been walking without companions.  That’s dull.

To remedy the dullness, I have been listening to my iPod.  I know that this isn’t the safest practice in the world, but it is certainly accepted practice.  Why else would so many people have those arm bands to carry their music players?  Anyway, I am very careful and I always watch where I am walking and look both ways before crossing any streets, Mom.  It is OK, I PROMISE.

I don’t listen to music, for the most part.  Certainly music can be very motivating and energizing, but I have instead been listening to audio courses from The Teaching Company.  These people charge huge sums of money for their audio courses, but they do have very regular reduced-price sales.  I recommend you wait for a sale before buying any.

The first course I listened to was The Old Testament, and the lectures were given by Amy-Jill (AJ) Levine, a former Swarthmore professor.  I never managed to take a course with her in college (too many physics and education courses in my schedule, plus I wasn’t sure I was interested in religion, despite how much everyone LOVED her courses.

I thought the course sounded interesting, and there was a lot I had never learned about the Old Testament.  I never read it, for one thing, having been scared off by the language and uninspired by the plot.  I had a marginal understanding based on a children’s book of bible stories my mom bought for me to prevent me growing up in complete ignorance (the Unitarian Universalist Sunday School I attended taught us about childbirth and non-Christian religions and sharing and personal growth, but was lacking in catechism) of the basis of much of Western literature and art.  But the main things I remembered were the story of Jonah and the story of the writing on the wall.  Both of which are actually pretty minor.

I really liked this course, especially learning about the archeological and historical evidence for the various events, rulers, and battles.  I finally learned what is meant by “the twelve tribes of Israel” and learned WAY more about Moses than I ever did at friends’ seder dinners.  What is a prophet?  I never really understood that until listening to these lectures.

The second course I listened to was The Story of Human Language by John McWhorter.  This was absolutely fascinating, and I will probably put some of his recommended books on my summer library list.  There were sooo many fascinating topics, from ancient languages like proto-Indo-European, to modern pidgins and creoles (and what the difference is between them).  How do languages change over time?  Words are acquired from other languages, vowel sounds change, consonants fall off or change from difficult sounds to easier sounds.  Why do some languages have clicks, some have tones, and some have a zillion word endings depending on tense, person, location, or mode of information?  Can dying languages be revived?  Why do we spell words one way and pronounce them another way?

Now that I am out of lectures, I am considering whether I want to get some more.  I’m not sure.  They ARE awfully pricey, but I have a lot more hours of walking ahead of me.  In the meantime, I am listening to unabridged recordings of some really long novels…the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  Each novel is about 3 inches thick, and the audio versions are over 33 hours each.  I’m on the second one, out of seven novels in the series (so far).  So, I can go about 110 miles per book.  Woo hoo!

[UPDATE 6/6/10: I have now purchased (at a great discount) the audio course “The Wisdom of History” and listened to the first two lectures on a 5-mile walk.  More learning!]

Learning while listening Part 1

29 May 2010

I am a long-time NPR listener.  I’ve been listening since 1989, or thereabouts.  I was hooked in college.  I love Morning Edition (and I still miss Bob Edwards) and All Things Considered.  On the weekends I used to fret every time I missed Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me.  I was annoyed that This American Life was always on after I went to bed or during church, as is the case with On The Media.  I have learned a lot from Marketplace and Car Talk.  I’ve had plenty of those “driveway moments” when I have to stay in the car and listen to the end of a compelling story.  One of those moments prompted me to purchase a cassette tape of the story: Remorse: the 14 Stories of Eric Morse.  It came on a tape paired with Ghetto Life 101 on the other side.  These two stories are from 1993 and 1994, so if you missed them I highly recommend them (click the links to get to the websites where you can listen).

In the past couple of years I discovered RadioLab, and my husband introduced me to Planet Money.  My favorite RadioLab so far has an interview with Brian Greene, famous from his books The Elegant Universe (available also as a NOVA DVD) and The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality.  My favorite Planet Money…well, I have several.

The thing is, I discovered RadioLab not on the radio, but as a podcast.  (Mom, you know what podcasts are, right?)  And Planet Money IS a podcast.  It is only occasionally actually on the radio, and when it is it is embedded in another show, either in This American Life which is where Planet Money originated, or in All Things Considered.  Through podcasts, I can also listen to This American Life and On the Media and Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me whenever I want to, and not just when they are broadcast on my local NPR station (which yes, I do still pledge to).

Anyway, the point of all this is actually so I can talk about Planet Money, which I think you should listen to.  Planet Money has two podcasts per week, available on iTunes or you can listen at their blog site.  They investigate all sorts of issues related to economics and finance, making a point of making the economic news clear and understandable for people who have never studied this stuff.  They translate the lingo and use simple examples to explain complex issues, such as using a $100 dollhouse to explain toxic assets.  Then the Planet Money team, all the people involved in making the show, put together $1000 of their own money to buy a real toxic asset, and you can follow it’s “death” on their blog site.

It helps, in my opinion, that they have really smart people on the Planet Money team.  One (the son of a college roommate of a friend of mine’s father), has a PhD in Physics from Harvard.  All are seasoned journalists who believe in delivering the truth to the public.  They explore a wide variety of economic topics, including copyright protection; the economy of Haiti; creating, marketing, and selling a great t-shirt; and how hedge funds such as Magnetar and Goldman-Sachs bet against their clients’ investments in mortgage-backed securities and profited hugely while their clients lost large sums of money.

That whole Goldman-Sachs thing was ridiculous.  It makes me wonder if any of these hedge-fund managers have a conscience.  I was glad to understand what was going on, but depressed by how horrible these people were to their own clients, fellow human beings.  I don’t consider myself a Christian, but there are a number of things Jesus said to do that I try to do in my life, like loving my neighbor.  I kindof think Jesus would have overturned the tables on Goldman-Sachs like he did to the moneylenders in the Temple, if only he had the opportunity.  And while Jesus said we should forgive, I find it very hard to forgive people who deliberately set out to screw the people who have hired them to manage their money well.

Anyway.  The point is, you should listen to Planet Money.  I like to download the podcast and listen while I am busy doing something else, like driving someplace, walking, cleaning up, washing dishes, etc.  Give it a listen, and tell me what you think!

Excursion

4 April 2010

My friend Ron wished to go to Hawk Mountain for his birthday, so his wife e-mailed a bunch of friends and got together a small gathering for a huge lunch and a short hike. I was pleased to attend!

We met at 11:45 at the Port Clinton Hotel, in Port Clinton, PA, which prides itself on serving huge portions.  I think their burgers must start with more than half a pound of ground beef.  I had the Mushroom Swiss burger, and it was cooked perfectly to my medium-rare specification.  The four of us shared a large order of fries, and we were unable to finish them.  I couldn’t finish my burger, either, though it was very yummy.

After lunch, we loaded the four of us into a Mini Cooper for the short drive from Port Clinton to Hawk Mountain.  After putting on our hats, choosing our viewing equipment and cameras, and paying our trail fees, we crossed the road to the trail.

The weather was beautiful – warm and sunny, but not too warm and not humid.  The sun was lovely through the still-bare branches of the woods, and there was a perfect breeze at the rocky lookout points where the sun was strongest, so nobody got too hot.  It was my first time visiting the mountain, and the trails were busy and the lookout points were getting a fair amount of traffic.  Families with small children, groups of teens, random people who seemed to just want a place to sit and talk on their cell phones.  Why come to such a nice place to talk on your phone?  I suppose it beats talking on the phone inside your house.  But it seems awfully public for one of the conversations we heard.

We saw a lot of turkey vultures, which are not that special, in my opinion.  They are found all over Pennsylvania.  But while we were at the North Outlook, which has an excellent view down the valley the birds fly up, the Hawk Mountain interns there pointed out a bald eagle, which took its time soaring by.  That was pretty special.

It was also pretty special to relax in the outdoors, to laugh and joke, and enjoy the sunshine!  And never fear, I wore sunscreen and did not get a burn.

I’m really glad I got out into the woods this weekend!  Happy Birthday, Ron!

Our hike

Walking

3 March 2010
Help me reach my goal for the Susan G. Komen Philadelphia 3-Day for the Cure!

What it says above.  I’ll be walking 60 miles in October and I am trying to raise $3000.  You can donate by clicking the “DONATE” button above.

I wrote a post in my walking blog on my official 3-day web page.  It says, in part:

When I was a kid in school, my parents both worked outside the home. They hired babysitters to be at our house when I arrived home from school. I vaguely remember the Puerto Rican girl who loved “I Love Lucy,” but I loved Mrs. Elmer. Mrs Elmer took me ice skating at the Aud, taught me how to take the bus almost anywhere in the city, drew me into Girl Scouts, and was a wonderful person. She had a double mastectomy and was killed by cancer in the late 1970’s. I was so upset when she was sick and in the hospital that I was rude to “Aunt Nellie” who Mrs. Elmer had found to take her place. I have no idea how I was rude, but I remember being grounded for a week.

I have learned that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.  I rather expect to be one of them.  Ten years ago, I had a scare.  My doctor found a lump in my breast and said I had to see a surgeon.  I was seeing an old male gynecologist, and he was very unhelpful and nobody answered my questions at his office, except to tell me that the recommended surgeon was wonderful.

The recommended surgeon was wonderful, as was the nurse practitioner who worked with her, who held my hand as I had a needle biopsy done.  The biopsy found no malignancy, but it did find papillary cells, which have been shown may develop into cancer.  So the lump, a fibroadenoma, had to come out.  Before I had surgery, two lumps were identified in one breast and one in the other, and all were removed.  A couple of years later, I had another (surprisingly fast-growing) lump removed, and my new, younger, female OB-GYN decided I ought to have annual mammograms.  So I have been having them since before I turned 35.

So far, so good.

Susan G. Komen For The Cure is a charity that is very highly rated on Charity Navigator, earning 4 stars (the maximum).  They funded the research that led to the discovery of the BRCA1 gene (breast cancer gene) and are currently funding research into early detection and into preventing metastasis (probably why Mrs. Elmer died), among other areas of research.  This charity has raised $1.2 BILLION since Nancy G. Brinker promised her sister Susan G. Komen that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever.

Please click on the “DONATE” button above and give what you can.  If you are able, $500 or $100 would be wonderful.  If you are stretched thin, $20 or $15 would be wonderful.  I’m going to train, walk 60 miles and raise $3,000.  What will you do?

THANK YOU!

Soooo Fulllllll

31 July 2009

For our fourth wedding anniversary, we went to Horizons, THE haute vegetarian cuisine restaurant in Philadelphia.  Adding to the excitement, we tried the chef’s tasting menu with the accompanying wine pairings:

IMG_3767IMG_3773

The wines are: Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc (from New Zealand) to go with the soup, Argiolas Vermentino (that’s a white wine from Italy) to go with the ravioli, Auroch Tempranillo (a smooth, mild red from Spain) to go with the tofu, Terranoble Carmenere (another red, from Chile) to go with the seitan, and Pfeiffer Muscat (from Australia) to go with dessert.

The soup:

IMG_3768

Fresh tasting, bright green, and absolutely lovely.  I tried the wine before tasting the soup, and I liked the wine much better after a few spoonfuls of soup.  Very nicely paired!  I confess I did not really taste the golden beet relish, but it added nice texture to the smooth soup.

The ravioli:

IMG_3770

Well, cream and leeks will get you everywhere with me, but I also enjoyed the salty seaweed caviar and the oyster mushroom ravioli itself was yummy as well.  But the best was yet to come.

The tofu course:

IMG_3775

Oops, I started eating this before I remembered to take a picture!  It started out much more elegant-looking.  The heart-of-palm cake was the star, for me, of the evening.  It was like a crab cake, but better!  Sweet, with a little bright acidity, soft with a perfectly crispy exterior, moist and creamy on my tongue.  Wow.  The tofu was good too, and the fresh corn and zucchini.  I think the garnish might have been pea tendrils, or at least it reminded me of that.  My husband claims I ate more of this than he did, since I totally cleaned my plate and he left a few bites, “saving himself” for the additional two courses yet to come.  It’s possible.

Grilled seitan:

IMG_3779

My husband loves seitan, a lot.  This seitan was amazing.  The texture and flavor were beyond perfect.  I am not a fan of olives or capers, and I feared this dish would be spicy, but I ate every bit of it.  There was a mild spicyness, and a lot of deliciousness.  Probably it would have been just fine without the added “taco” with avocado and smoked tofu underneath, and certainly would have been a little less filling, but I liked how the smooth cool avocado complemented the meaty seitan.  I could imagine having all the ingredients of this dish inside a burrito…mmmmmmmm!

OK, so now we were stuffed, and I was a little sloshed from having to keep up with the wines.  I usually do not drink so fast, but since the wines were geared to the courses, I was making sure to maintain the pace.  But there was still dessert, and muscat.

The muscat arrived first, and just a sniff made me dizzy…but then I thought maybe I was just dizzy anyway.  Sweet but not syrupy like port, the flavor reminded me of the fruit candies we get with our bill from the local Thai restaurant, but also reminded me of a childhood flavor that I could not recall enough to name.  Then we were presented with an array of three desserts, saffron crème brûlée, blueberry cheesecake, and peanut butter cake:

IMG_3781

The crème brûlée was perfect, with the paper-thin caramel crust giving way to smooth and delicate custard.  The blueberry cheesecake with drips of lemon-herb sauce was fantastic.  I think I have not yet had enough blueberries this summer.  Unfortunately, the peanut butter cake could not stand up to the magnificence of the other two desserts, and came off as a poor third, though it might have been better on its own.  Comparatively dry and without the subtlety of flavors of the other two, it lost out.  If it had been a rich, moist, smooth dark chocolate something, the story might have been a little different.

I would be hungry after writing this, but I am still feeling pretty full.  As my husband remarked, “I remember this feeling.  It’s the feeling of being completely stuffed after eating at Horizons.”

Yeah.  It is.

Useful!

16 January 2009

When I was first given my Nintendo DS, I knew that in Japan people used them to learn English.  Now THAT’s useful, I said to my husband, who of course was the one who told me about it.  They should have a program so I can learn Japanese.

Well, now they do, so I bought it.  I can say yes, no, bad, good, hello, goodbye, and thank you, and I am learning how to correctly pronounce karaoke, karate, futon, ninja, anime, manga, tsunami, and samurai.  “Futon” is difficult for me!  It is more of a sound effect than a word, as I hear it.

japanesecoach

One of the really neat features is that you can listen to the nice Japanese lady say each word, then record your own pronunciation, then listen to your pronunciation, then listen to you and the nice Japanese lady saying the word in unison (or not in unison…darn futon!)

There are silly little games, like whack-a-mole, well, tap-a-gopher, where you have to tap the correct gopher according to the words shown on little placards below each hole.  And word search.  The first time I looked for kamikaze in a word search, it was tough!  The letter combinations are not what I’m used to!

So far I have only done the very tiniest first bit.  But there are supposedly 10,000 vocabulary words and 1,000 lessons.  You can use it to learn to write kanji too, so maybe I will learn that as well.  There is a dictionary/phrasebook contained in the program for use when you travel to Japan, and if you fail to speak you can use the sketchbook function to draw a picture of what you need!

I do not have any current plans to visit Japan, however.  Maybe someday!

Mid-January 2009

12 January 2009

I apologize for the extremely uncreative title.  But this is a catch-up post.

It’s mid-January already.  The marking period ends next week and all the kids are overwhelmed with projects and tests.  It’s only a week since we came back from break and it seems like break never happened.

My wonderful husband went to California last week to do some work, mostly videotaping but some web-tech stuff also.  Once his work was done he stayed for an extra couple of days to hang out with friends and play Rock Band with people who could really handle it…unlike those of us who played on January 2, who benefitted from the “no-fail feature.”  No, these were people who could keep my husband on his toes!

Meanwhile, I was home, working.  I had to do all of the chores myself: cooking, taking out the trash, feeding the cat, etc.  Which really is not all that hard to do.  I took advantage of mygarliccookbook opportunity and last Tuesday I roasted a chicken, using a recipe from the Garlic, Garlic, Garlic cookbook involving roasting some garlic, then putting the roasted garlic, a halved lemon and some herbs inside the chicken before roasting the chicken.  Afterward, a sauce is made with pan juices, more lemon juice, and the roasted garlic.  The bird comes out really tender and yummy!

I’m still eating chicken.

I am down to a last sandwich-worth of chicken salad, however, so that is pretty good.  I had some of it as soup, when I came down with “the virus going around school” last week.  I woke up freezing cold and wet with sweat several times a night for two nights in a row, and was achy and dizzy and very brain-fogged.  It made teaching a challenge, especially on Friday.  So anyway, I made a really easy chicken soup, as shown here:

chickensoup

Easy chicken soup, by teawithbuzz

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tbs “better than bouillon” chicken base
  • about 1 carrot, chopped
  • about 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • about 1/2 cup chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 handful egg noodles

Put water and chicken base in pot, bring to a boil.  Add carrots and celery, simmer 5 minutes.  Add chicken and egg noodles, simmer until noodles are tender.  Serves 2, or serves one for dinner and serves one again for lunch the next day.

I slept a LOT over the weekend to recover, and I feel much better now, plus I have my husband back now, and he cooked a yummy stir-fry for dinner!    I enjoy having someone else cook dinner!