Sunday, December 2, 2012

My 2012 Hammacher Schlemmer Christmas Gift Wish List

For those of you who are having a difficult time figuring out what to get me for Christmas this year, I humbly publish this helpful list for your use. Please coordinate with others so I do not have to be bothered with returning duplicate gifts. Thank you in advance!

Remote Control Tarantula $29.95

Indoor Flameless Marshmallow Roaster $69.96

Folding Electric Bicycle $2,000.00

Flying Car $350,000.00

Portable Wood-Burning Hot Tub $6,000.00

Two-Person 60 MPH Hovercraft $19,500.00

46-Inch Weather-Resistant Outdoor HD Television $5,000.00

Personal Submarine $2,000,000.00

Barbecue Dining Boat $50,000.00

Genuine PT Boat $1,000,000.00

Elliptical Machine Office Desk $8,000.00

Just message me for my delivery address!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Update on Dad Via a Dream

I had an interesting dream last night, and I want to share it because it left me with such a feeling of peace, comfort, and acceptance. In the dream, dad's brother, Leonard, and his wife, Leona, came for a visit. Leonard and Leona both passed away years ago. They visited with dad for a while, but I was not privy to their visit or discussion. After they left, dad came out of the room and he had been physically restored to my memory of him when he was in his 30s and I was a pre-teen. He was young again, strong, and he was almost running around. He was carrying his walker with him, and the last thing I remember before waking was dad looking at the walker with a puzzled look on his face.

I'm sure psychiatrists and professional dream-ologists would have a field day with this dream, but I know in my heart and soul that the message to us is an affirmation of faith and a reminder that dad's soul is destined for an eternity of love, peace, and contentment.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The New Bumper Stickers Are Here, The New Bumper Stickers Are Here!

I'm going to continue the tradition, started by my dad with his '84 GMC, of putting lots of bumper stickers on the tail gate of my truck. Here are a few to get me started (yes, I'm going to put them all on at one time):

thank you, zazzle!

On Turning 100,000

This morning my truck went from this:

to this:

I hope the old Ford F150 has a lot more miles in her! Only took me five years and eight months to get there!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Of Mockingbirds and Tractors

I've been mowing pastures for the past couple of days. I'm so happy that we are no longer in drought, but I'm back to mowing. A lot.

Yesterday and today, I noticed a mockingbird hanging around my tractor.
Photograph of the Northern Mockingbird

I thought this was rather odd because it is widely known here in Texas that mockingbirds prefer Kuboda tractors:

and, of course, I have a John Deere tractor:

My curiosity got the best of me, so I started looking around the tractor for a nest. To my surprise, when I flipped the seat forward, this is what I saw:

The mother mockingbird was waiting patiently while I took this picture. I am hopeful that she will successfully hatch her brood.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Time to let the cat out of the bag!

Well, it's official! I will be changing jobs for the next school year and will be leaving the classroom for the first time in nine years! I will be moving to my district's Technology Department to become an Education Technology Specialist on August 13th.  I had fully intended to teach in PISD's GT Academy for at least one more year, but when I saw the Ed Tech Specialist position posted a couple of weeks ago, I couldn't resist submitting my application. After two interviews and discussions with current and previous supervisors, they still decided to hire me for this job! The official purpose of the position is "to integrate technology into the curriculum in a way that develops skills, increases understanding, and explores applications so that students and staff utilize instructional technology to increase performance."  I've included a list of major responsibilities and duties at the end of this post for those of you who want and/or need to know.

I can't begin to express how excited I am about this opportunity. It will be a big and difficult transition to move from the classroom, but I am thrilled at the prospect of being able to impact a much wider audience in my new role.  I'll be posting more information on the mechanics of my new assignment later. For now, I just wanted to share this good news with my family, friends, and PLN (even though my wife insists "those Facebook and Twitter people are not your friends.")

Major Responsibilities and Duties

  1. Coordinate planning sessions with individuals, teams, or departments providing guidance for effective use of technology applications as part of the instructional process.
  2. Assist with developing technology-based instructional strategies for teachers and students.
  3. Work cooperatively with principals and teachers to implement instructional technology.
  4. Model technology-based instructional strategies for teachers and students.
  5. Provide technology training for students, teachers, administrators, and support staff in the district on various platforms and applications.
  6. Assist teachers and administrators with software and hardware selection.
  7. Assist in the planning, development, and implementation of technology grant applications.
  8. Assist with planning and conducting periodic needs assessment/evaluations related to the technology requirements of the district.
  9. Share strategies for technology management to maximize effective use of computers and software.
  10. Assist with the implementation of the campus and district technology plans.
  11. Perform other duties as assigned.

Friday, July 13, 2012

What a difference a year makes!

Last year, I took this picture of our pond during the Texas drought:

I drive my truck off into our pond! on Twitpic

Almost a year later, here is a picture of the same spot:

Another pond view on Twitpic

What a difference a year makes!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Invasion: Alaska. I read the book!

I just finished reading "Invasion: Alaska" by Vaughn Heppner.  It's a great book set in the year 2032.

I really liked Heppner's ideas about future weaponry. I was impressed with the detail. This is of special interest to me since I coach Future Problem Solvers. The book would make a great case study for the students. I appreciate Heppner's efforts to keep the book "clean." I contacted him via email to see if there was a possibility of obtaining an edited or editable version of the book to make it "safe" for junior high students. To my surprise. Heppner replied quickly. He said he was not aware of a way to do that, but he thought it was a great idea. Additionally, he said he tries to keep his books "clean" since he found out that his nephews are reading his books.

Several years ago, I contacted the publishers of Michael Crichton's "Prey" with the same type of inquiry, but never received a reply. "Prey" would make a great futuristic case study for students, but there is just a bit too much inappropriateness in the book for my taste.

I think it's interesting that I just stumbled upon Heppner's books. I think one of my next reads will be his new book, "Accelerated."  Before I read this, however, I'm going to read Neil de Grasse Tyson's "Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier."  I received this as a gift from my son for Father's Day.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Welcome to Houston, Space Shuttle Replica

While I was out running errands today, I decided to drive by NASA JSC and Space Center Houston to see if I could catch a glimpse of Space Shuttle replica that Houston received over the weekend.

I saw the tail of the shuttle from NASA Parkway, so I u-turned and went north on Saturn Lane. There poking out through a grove of trees was the space shuttle, right across the street from the Saturn V and Mercury rockets. Two other space aficionados had pulled off the road to take some pictures, so I joined them. Our view was from the rear and partly blocked by the trees, even when standing on my truck. Here's my pic from that vantage point:

Houston, we have a space shuttle! on Twitpic

Then, I headed over to Space Center Houston to see if they would let me go into their parking lot to take some close-up pictures. I ended up having to pay the $6 parking fee, but I think it was worth it. Here are two more pics from the parking lot:

Houston, we have a space shuttle, 2 on Twitpic
Houston, we have a space shuttle, 3 on Twitpic

I also snapped this picture of one of the Orion Space Capsules just sitting in the parking lot:

Orion space capsule at Space Center Houston on Twitpic

I'm happy that NASA JSC in Houston ended up with a space shuttle memory, but it still grates on my nerves that the "real" shuttles went elsewhere. I found it ironic that Space Shuttle Enterprise was damaged today on its way to NYC.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Decoration Day and Buddy Poppies

I hope you all have a chance to do something meaningful today to honor those men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and the freedom of people around the world.

One of my earliest memories of Memorial Day was while visiting my grandparents in Winchester TX. The were life-long members of St Michael's Evangelical Lutheran Church. LCMS. My parents were married in that church in 1956, and I was baptized there in 1958. My grandmother, Clara Amanda nee Mitschke Zoch, would always be involved with Decoration Day activities at the church's cemetery.  As I remember, church members would spruce up the cemetery in general (kind of a spring cleaning), and then make sure flowers and flags were on all deceased veterans' graves.  Being Lutheran, I'm sure there was a pot-luck social of some type.  Even though the name was officially changed to Memorial Day in the 1960s, this was always Decoration Day for my grandmother.

Another Memorial Day tradition that you don't see much of these days is the sale of "Buddy" Poppies.  The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) began the Buddy Poppy campaign back in 1922 to help support disabled and needy veterans. It is my understanding that this campaign still exists, but I have not seen a Buddy Poppy in quite some time. When I was in school in the 1960s and 1970s, it was common for students to sell Buddy Poppies. Perhaps this is one more tradition that has been sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Chicken Coop Chronicles: The Coop is Built! #chickenchat

The new coop is complete! It's much smaller than I imagined, but should be perfect for 2 or 3 hens to get us started. Here's the video tour of the outside (excuse the audio. it was windy, yo!):

Here's a picture of the completed coop. Looks a lot like the picture online!

Here's a picture in the screened yard looking at the ladder and up into the roost and nest area:

Here's  a picture of the inside roost area looking into the nesting area:

Our chickens even have a nice window from the roost area!

Here's the view from the chicken's window. Pay no attention to the man on the left.

Latest Installment of the Chicken Coop Chronicles #chickenchat

The chicken coop that we ordered arrived on Friday (some assembly required). I'm about ready to begin to start putting it together. I'm trying not to think about the fact that I haven't yet finished building the fence panels for the chicken yard (it's on the list).

My immediate challenge is to transform this:

and this:

into this:,1600,0xffffff

for the likes of:
Disclaimer: These chicks were at D&D Feed and Saddlery in Pearland TX USA. The actual residents of Unklar's chicken coop will be special-ordered. No chicks were injured in the taking of this picture.

I guess blogging about this is not going to get the job done. Stay tuned for the next installment of the Chicken Coop Chronicles #chickenchat.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

QR Code for my Blog

Just playing around with QuickMark today. Trying to think of innovative ways to use QR codes in the classroom now that we are piloting BYOD.