Friday, January 30, 2009

Be Prepared

The Boy Scouts have it right when they say "Be Prepared". I recently found this amazingly scientific survey, and thought since I live in a rural snowy area it would nice to know how many days I could survive in my house. I hope it doesn't come to this!

How Long Could You Survive Trapped In Your Own Home?

This doesn't even take into consideration the "Get Away Tote" that holds all of the camping supplies!

Enjoy ~SJ

The Mom

Too funny, just had to share. (Not that The Mother ever had to say these things....)


More sky from the parking lot of the new elementary school. There was an a amazing view on the drive up the road to the school where the sun was shining in rays up from behind the mountain filtering through the ice covered trees. Tried to take a few shots of it, but sometimes the camera just can't capture everything.

Enjoy ~SJ

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Two Hour Delay...

A school delay is like free time off that you never have to make up. Sure, it makes for a weird day at school; classes get cut or shortened, you eat lunch almost as soon as you get there. But, you get extra time in the morning to sit around and drink coffee (and blog)!

The one hour delay isn't so hard, but the two hour delay always gets me standing in the middle of my house saying things like "Well normally we start at 8 (I leave at 7:20), so if there is a two hour delay we start at 10 (I leave at 9:20)." A two hour delay is like one of those nightmare train problems "If train A leaves the station at 10:30 traveling 55 mph, and train B leaves the station at 11:00 traveling at 45 mph, what time will they meet?"

I think I have it all figured out when I need to leave the house and didn't need to make a chart to help me find the solution.

Enjoy ~SJ

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Runcible Spoon Mystery

The Mother always read to me, and at an early age I started memorizing and reciting my favorite stories; Hey Diddle Diddle, Sylvester And The Magic Pebble, and The Owl And The Pussycat just to name a few. The last one is still a favorite of mine.


The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'


Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.


'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

The mystery for The Mother and I (during the kindergarten year) was what a runcible spoon was. This was before the internet, so we went on a trip to the library to find out. After a little research we found out that a runcible spoon is defined as "a spoon on one end and a fork on the other".

This all came flooding back to me today because while in Wal-Mart today I bought myself a new fork/spoon to keep in my desk at school. I am tired of not having the right eating utensile and having to spend half of my lunch break going to the cafateria in search of one. This new fork/spoon that I purchased is called a "spork". I always understood a sprok to be that utensile that you get when you go to KFC, a spoon fork thing all on the same end. The utensile that I bought it what I thought a runcible spoon is, fork on one end, spoon on the other (pictured to the left from the company website).

According to Merriam-Webster it is defined as "coined with an obscure meaning by Edward Lear: a sharp-edged fork with three borad curved prongs". If you notice it is Edward Lear, the authoer of the Owl And The Pussycat who coined the term. Wikipedia goes on to further try to explain what a runcible spoon: "A runcible spoon is a utensil that appears in nonsense poetry, which also uses the adjective "runcible" to describe objects other than spoons. It is fundamentally a nonsense word".

Apparently Lear used the term rundible spoon two different times in his writing, once in The Owl And The Pussycat, the other in Twenty-Six Nonsense Rhymes And Pictures:

The Dolomphious Duck,
who caught Spotted Frogs for her dinner
with a Runcible Spoon
So it seems that even Lear was confused on what this utensile is. Wikipedia goes on to support his confusion by saying "Lear does not appear to have had any firm idea of what the word "runcible" means. His whimsical nonsense verse celebrates words primarily for their sound, and a specific definition is not needed to appreciate his work. However, since the 1920s (several decades after Lear's death), modern dictionaries have generally defined a runcible spoon to be a fork with three broad curved prongs and a sharpened edge, used with pickles or hors d'oeuvres, such as a pickle fork. It is occasionally used as a synonym for spork. However, this definition is not consistent with Lear's drawing, in which it is a ladle, nor does it account for the other "runcible" objects in Lear's poems."

So back to the original question, what is my new utensile called? I don't know for sure but I'm calling it a runcible spoon and if anyone questions me I have done my research.

Enjoy ~SJ

Chinese New Year

In years past I have celebrated parts of the Chinese New Year, but this year I forgot, well the food part at least. I have always been taken with the idea of the Chinese New Year, the idea that you clean your old luck and get rid of your dust in hopes of new luck for a new year. Plus, it makes me clean up my house some! Weather Boy and I had a conversation yesterday afternoon (while he was finishing off some amazing looking homemade dumplings left over from his celebration) and I explained part of the celebration to him. Well Weather Boy, here is more info for you.

Day Before Preparations (Wikipedia)

On the days before the New Year celebration Chinese families give their home a thorough cleaning. There is a Cantonese saying "Wash away the dirt on ninyabaat" (年廿八,洗邋遢), but the practice is not usually restricted on nin'ya'baat (年廿八, the 28th day of month 12). It is believed the cleaning sweeps away the bad luck of the preceding year and makes their homes ready for good luck. Brooms and dust pans are put away on the first day so that luck cannot be swept away. Some people give their homes, doors and window-frames a new coat of red paint. Homes are often decorated with paper cutouts of Chinese auspicious phrases and couplets. Purchasing new clothing, shoes and receiving a hair-cut also symbolize a fresh start.

In many households where Buddhism or Taoism is prevalent, home altars and statues are cleaned thoroughly, and altars that were adorned with decorations from the previous year are also taken down and burned a week before the new year starts, and replaced with new decorations. Taoists (and Buddhists to a lesser extent) will also "send gods" (送神), an example would be burning a paper effigy of the Kitchen God, the recorder of family functions. This is done so that the kitchen god can report to the Jade Emperor of the family household's transgressions and good deeds. Families often offer sweet foods (such as candy) in order to "bribe" Gods into reporting good things about the family.

The biggest event of any Chinese New Year's Eve is the dinner every family will have. A dish consisting of fish will appear on the tables of Chinese families. It is for display for the New Year's Eve dinner. This meal is comparable to Christmas dinner in the West. In northern China, it is customary to make dumplings (jiaozi 饺子) after dinner and have it around midnight. Dumplings symbolize wealth because their shape is like a Chinese tael. By contrast, in the South, it is customary to make a new year cake (Niangao, 年糕) after dinner and send pieces of it as gifts to relatives and friends in the coming days of the new year. Niangao literally means increasingly prosperous year in year out. After the dinner, some families go to local temples, hours before the new year begins to pray for a prosperous new year; however in modern practice, many households hold parties and even hold a countdown to the new lunar year.

Red Envelopes (Wikipedia)

Red packets for sale in a market in Taipei, Taiwan, before the Year of the Rat

Traditionally, Red envelopes or red packets (Cantonese: lai shi or lai see) (利是, 利市 or 利事); (Mandarin: 'hóng bāo' (红包); Hokkien: 'ang pow' (POJ: âng-pau); Hakka: 'fung bao'; are passed out during the Chinese New Year's celebrations, from married couples or the elderly to unmarried juniors. It is also common for adults or young couples to give red packets to children. Red packets are also known as 壓歲錢/压岁钱 (Ya Sui Qian, which was evolved from 壓祟錢/压祟钱, literally, the money used to suppress or put down the evil spirit ) during this period.[4]

Red packets almost always contain money, usually varying from a couple of dollars to several hundred. Per custom, the amount of money in the red packets should be of even numbers, as odd numbers are associated with cash given during funerals (帛金 : Bai Jin). The number 8 is considered lucky (for its homophone for "wealth"), and $8 is commonly found in the red envelopes. The number six is also very lucky due to the reason, in chinese six[六,liu] can mean smooth, as in having a smooth year. Sometimes chocolate coins are found in the red packets.

Odd and even numbers are determined by the first digit, rather than the last. Thirty and fifty, for example, are odd numbers, and are thus appropriate as funeral cash gifts. However, it is common and quite acceptable to have cash gifts in a red packet using a single bank note – with ten or fifty yuan bills used frequently.

The act of requesting for red packets is normally called (Mandarin): 讨紅包, 要利是. (Cantonese):逗利是. A married person would not turn down such request as it would mean that he or she would be "out of luck" in the new year. While this practice is common in South China, in the North people give cash without any cover to their sons and daughters, nephews and nieces, and children of their relatives and friends. Unlike the South, it is common for people give ¥50, ¥100 or even more, odd or even numbers are not taken into consideration anymore.

Gift exchange

In addition to red envelopes, which are usually given from elder to younger, small gifts (usually of food or sweets) are also exchanged between friends or relatives (of different households) during Chinese New Year. Gifts are usually brought when visiting friends or relatives at their homes. Common gifts include fruits (typically oranges, and never pears), cakes, biscuits, chocolates, candies, or some other small gift.

Good Luck/Bad Luck (Wikipedia)

Good luck

  • Opening windows and/or doors is considered to bring in the good luck of the new year.
  • Switching on the lights for the night is considered good luck to 'scare away' ghosts and spirits of misfortune that may compromise the luck and fortune of the new year.
  • Sweets are eaten to ensure the consumer a "sweet" year.
  • It is important to have the house completely clean from top to bottom before New Year's Day for good luck in the coming year. (however, as explained below, cleaning the house on or after New Year's Day is frowned upon)
  • Some believe that what happens on the first day of the new year reflects the rest of the year to come. Chinese people will often gamble at the beginning of the year, hoping to get luck and prosperity.
  • Wearing a new pair of slippers that is bought before the new year, because it means to step on the people who gossip about you.
  • The night before the new year, bathe yourself in pomelo leaves and some say that you will be healthy for the rest of the new year.
  • Changing different things in the house such as blankets, clothes, mattress covers etc. is also a well respected tradition in terms of cleaning the house in preparation for the new year.

Bad luck

  • Buying a pair of shoes is considered bad luck amongst some Chinese. The character for "shoe" (鞋) is a homophone for the character 諧/谐, which means "rough" in Cantonese; in Mandarin it is also a homophone for the character for "evil" (邪).
  • Getting a hair-cut in the first lunar month puts a curse on maternal uncles. Therefore, people get a hair-cut before the New Year's Eve.
  • Washing your hair is also considered to be washing away one's own luck (although modern hygienic concerns take precedence over this tradition)
  • Sweeping the floor is usually forbidden on the first day, as it will sweep away the good fortune and luck for the new year.
  • Saying words like "finished" and "gone" is inauspicious on the New Year, so sometimes people would avoid these words by saying "I have completed eating my meal" rather than say "I have finished my meal."
  • Talking about death is inappropriate for the first few days of Chinese New Year, as it is considered inauspicious.
  • Buying (or reading) books is bad luck because the character for "book" (書/书) is a homonym to the character for "lose" (輸/输).
  • Avoid clothes in black and white, as black is a symbol of bad luck, and white is a traditional Chinese funeral colour.
  • Foul language is inappropriate during the Chinese New Year.
  • Offering anything in fours, as the number four (四), pronounced , can sound like "death" (死), pronounced , in Chinese. Pronunciations given here are for Mandarin, but the two words are also near-homophones in Cantonese. See tetraphobia.
  • One should never buy a clock for someone or for oneself because a clock in Chinese tradition means one's life is limited or "the end," which is also forbidden.
  • Avoid medicine and medicine related activities (at least on the first day) as it will give a bad fortune on one's health and lessen the luck one can obtain from New Years.
There is a lot more to the holiday than what I have outlined here. As you can tell different parts of the country celebrate it differently than other parts.

Enjoy ~SJ

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cookie Quiz

You Are Traditional and Dependable

You are optimistic, friendly, and cheerful. People appreciate the hopefulness and good vibes you bring to any situation.

You are a natural communicator and facilitator of harmony. You value peace above everything else.

You're easy going and easy to be around. You aren't picky or high maintenance.

You seek security in your life. Feeling safe is important to you.

Ansel Adams

I have been looking at a lot of different works of Adams over the last few weeks. I'm not sure what it is about his photographs, but the way that he captures nature has always intrigued me. Recently I realized that I didn't really know anything about the photographer who's images are so recognizable. Here is what I discovered about him at the Sierra Club website.

Ansel Adams was a visionary figure in nature photography and wilderness preservation. He is seen as an environmental folk hero and a symbol of the American West, especially of Yosemite National Park. Adams' dedication to wilderness preservation, his commitment to the Sierra Club, and of course, his signature black-and-white photographs inspire an appreciation for natural beauty and a strong conservation ethic.....

Ansel Adams (1902-1984) was born in San Francisco four years before the great earthquake of 1906. An aftershock of the earthquake threw him to the ground, breaking his nose and marking him for life. He spent his childhood days playing in the sand dunes beyond the Golden Gate where he gained an appreciation for nature, which would become his primary source of photographic inspiration.

Adams first visited Yosemite in 1916 - only 2 years after John Muir's death and 3 months before the founding of the National Park Service - and was transfixed by the beautiful valley. In 1919, at age 17, he had his first contact with the Sierra Club when he took a job as custodian of the Club's LeConte Memorial Lodge, the Club headquarters in Yosemite National Park.

Ansel Adams cookingAdams' interest in photography grew and often brought him up to the mountains accompanied by a mule laden with photographic gear and supplies.

In 1927, Adams participated in the Club's annual outing, known as the High Trip, and, the next year, he became the Club's official trip photographer. In 1930 he became assistant manager of the outings which consisted of month-long excursions of up to 200 people.

Ansel AdamsAdams' role in the Sierra Club grew rapidly and the Club became vital to his early success as a photographer. His first photographs and writings were published in the Sierra Club Bulletin. Adams also got involved politically in the Club, suggesting proposals for improving parks and wilderness, and soon became known as both an artist and defender of Yosemite. In 1934, Adams was elected as a member of the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club, a role he maintained for 37 years. His tenure spanned the years that the Club evolved into a powerful national organization that lobbied to create national parks and protect the environment from destructive development projects.

Adams' images were first used for environmental purposes when the Sierra Club was seeking the creation of a national park in the Kings River region of the Sierra Nevada. Adams lobbied Congress for a Kings Canyon National Park, the Club's priority issue in the 1930's, and created an impressive, limited-edition book, Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail, which influenced both Interior Secretary Harold Ickes and President Franklin Roosevelt to embrace the Kings Canyon Park idea. The park was created in 1940.

Ansel AdamsIn 1968 Adams was awarded the Conservation Service Award, the Interior Department's highest civilian honor, "in recognition of your many years of distinguished work as a photographer, artist, interpreter and conservationist, a role in which your efforts have been of profound importance in the conservation of our great natural resources." In 1980 Adams received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for "his efforts to preserve this country's wild and scenic areas, both on film and on earth. Drawn to the beauty of nature's monuments, he is regarded by environmentalists as a national institution."

Adams was often criticized for not including humans in his photographs and for representing an idealized wilderness that no longer exists. However, it is in large part thanks to Adams that these pristine areas have been protected for years to come.

Why was Ansel Adams revered by Americans as no other artist or conservationist has been? William Turnage explains: "More than any other influential American of his epoch, Adams believed in both the possibility and the probability of humankind living in harmony and balance with its environment."

Ansel Adams was a dedicated artist-activist, playing a seminal role in the growth of an environmental consciousness in the U.S. and the development of a citizen environmental movement. His photographs continue to inspire the artist and conservationist alike.

Enjoy ~SJ

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Through The Eyes Of Kermit

I had a great time taking these pictures, and maybe more fun putting them all together into a movie. I really did it all to share with my students, but I thought my blog readers (all 2 of you) would like to see it as well.

Enjoy ~SJ

Maine or Bust!

After over twelve hours of traveling I pulled into the driveway. It was a long and exhausting week of learning how to be a successful doctoral student. After countless sessions on writing, resource searching, writing, technology tips, writing, and question asking I think I have a handle on what I need to do next. Did I mention writing tips?

The trip home was uneventful, made a little iMovie of Kermit's travels, read a few articles, and read more of Three Cups of Tea. Oh, and I somehow lost/left behind my coat. Yup, you heard it right, moments before my flight out of Dallas departs after spending a few hours in the airport killing time I remember that I left my coat on the chair in the food court. I sprint back to get it, and you guessed it - it was gone. When I arrived at the Portland Jetport, and walked outside on the tarmack (it was one of those tiny planes too small to connect to the terminal), I was freezing. That's what I get for being a little absent minded.

Enjoy ~SJ

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I liked the new and old juxtaposed in the Dallas skyline. Not sure what these two buildings are, but I think that the Majestic is a movie theater.

Enjoy ~SJ

Friday, January 23, 2009

Presidential Adventure

Since he can no longer lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, George W moved to 10141 Daria Pl in Dallas. This is a non-gated community that you can just drive by, so being the adventurer that I am I went for a little drive today to Daria Place. I plugged in the address into my new and amazing GPS (more about this in another post), and followed the directions. As I drove the houses got bigger (like everything in Texas) and nicer. I knew I was close when I saw a news crew at the end of the road, and people driving slowly with cameras in hand (like me). The lawns in the area had signs on them welcoming their new residents. I didn't dare drive by and take a picture, I don't need to get mixed up with being questioned by secret service with Beth being so far away. I didn't really see much, but it was fun!

Enjoy ~SJ

Giddy Up! Fort Worth Stockyards

Today I took a few hours for myself and went on an adventure to the Fort Worth Stockyards. This part of Fort Worth is a real working stockyard as well as a tourist attraction. They still have weekly livestock auctions (sorry The Mother, I didn't try my hand at bidding on a horse, not sure if I could bring it home on the plane). Also, twice a day they have a cattle drive, rodeos, and lots of cowboy memorabilia. Here are a few pictures of Kermit enjoying the sights.

Enjoy ~SJ

Sarah's Key

I finished another amazing book this week, Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. It is a informative story about the Jewish round-up in France in 1942. de Rosnay started the book with two alternating story lines, one set in 1942 the other in 2002. I kept guessing at how these two plots fight together and just when I thought I had it, de Rosnay through in another twist. Here is what Barnes and Noble had to say.

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.
Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.
Tatiana de Rosnay offers us a brilliantly subtle, compelling portrait of France under occupation and reveals the taboos and silence that surround this painful episode.

Enjoy ~SJ

Caffeine Overload

"Caffeine gives you powers. Take in enough of it and your twitching, vibrating body is capable of amazing feats. This highly scientific *cough* test determines your level of caffeine intake by measuring how fast you can click your mouse. The test will last for 30 seconds, during which you must click the button below as many times as possible." (One Plus You)

The Caffeine Click Test - How Caffeinated Are You?

This results is not accurate at all, but fun none the less!

Enjoy ~SJ

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The JFK Museum

Today I left my workshops for a few hours of relaxation in downtown Dallas. Since I have limited amounts of time to take in this part of the country, I decided that I couldn't come to Dallas and not go to the JFK Museum, or the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. I had planned on going on Tuesday, I thought it might be a very interesting place to go on that historic day, but it did not work out.

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy; interprets and supports the Dealey Plaza National Historical Landmark District and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza; and presents contemporary culture within the context of presidential history. (Sixth Floor Museum website)

(Kermit in front of the museum)

The museum has a wonderful audio guided tour, complete with movies, photographs, artifacts, and descriptions. It was a very moving experience to stand and look out the window down onto the street below where this loved President was killed.

Enjoy ~SJ

Linked In

I heard today that 70% of the people have their currnet job because of someone that they knew. Networking couldn't be more important, but in some occupations it can be very difficult as well. In case you haven't found it yet, LinkedIn is another social networking website. No, it isn't like facebook or myspace for social networking. LinkedIn is for professionals to connect with other professionals. I had heard about it in the past, checked it out, but never created an account until today. It allows you to make a professional profile, connect with people that you know, join groups that you belong to such as professional organizations and alumni organizations. It is just like a networking luncheon without the tiny sandwishes and bad pasta salad.

You can personalize your Linked In link so that it isn't a long string of numbers. Easier to remember and cooler to look at on the business card that I keep meaning to make. Check me out and connect with me if you want.

Enjoy ~SJ

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Even Space Noticed!

There are a lot of things that can be said about the events of yesterday. I am simply going to say that the events were so huge that you could even see it from space. Thanks to Google Maps and the great satellites we can just see how huge it was.



So even Marvin The Martian could see the events - impressive America!

Enjoy ~SJ

SJ Trivia

Beth challenged me to this 37 question quiz about me, and since I can always be a sucker for another blog quiz I decided to participate. I bet you are going to learn some things about me in this quiz that you never even thought about.

37 Random Things About Me

1. Do you like blue cheese? Love it! And gorgonzola
2. Have you ever smoked? In times of never-ending stress
3. Do you own a gun? Nope.
4. What flavor Kool Aid is your favorite? Ummm......
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Not really, my doctor is also a Simmons grad so we get along wonderfully and are always talking about shoes.
6. What do you think of hot dogs? I like them, but know I shouldn't eat the,
7. Favorite Christmas movie? The Peanuts ones
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Coffee
9. Can you do push-ups? Yup thanks to Wii Fit!
10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? I found a great new cuff bracelet this summer that is a Lovers Knot. A long time ago a bought a lovers knot ring, and now I have a complete set.
11. Favorite hobby? Reading, sleeping, surfing the web, blogging, technology geek stuff
12. Do you have A.D.D? I'm very good at doing a few things at the same time - like right now I'm in a writing workshop and writing this blog.
13. Do you wear glasses/contacts? Both, although I don't get spotted in my glasses as much as I know I should.
14. Middle name? Jane
15. Name thoughts at this moment? I is getting a little scary, I'm understanding this whole KAM (mini dissertation) process, understanding how to organize my growing number or research articles, and know how I am going to get through this next degree.
16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Coffee, Seltzer water, V8 juice.
17. Current worry? The apartment building, and how I'm going to get that third floor fixed up and find more tenants.
18. Current hate right now? How wrinkled clothes get when you pack them, that means I have to iron!
19. Favorite place to be? On the porch looking out over the pond reading a great book.
20. How did you bring in the New Year? Dinner with friends and an exciting game of Boggle, we made it until midnight but not much past that.
21. Where would you like to go? Africa on a safari, or on an amazing SCUBA trip to Belize.
22. Name three people who will complete this? Rach, Katie and The Mother
23. Do you own slippers? Yes, a pair of L.L. Bean wool clogs. I also have a pair of Acorn slipper socks but they got a little "blow out" on the side.
24 What color shirt are you wearing? Turquoise collared shirt, magenta sweater (looks better in person than it sounds)
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Uh..... not clue, I go like flannel - much more practical for Maine winters.
26. Can you whistle? Yup!
27. Favorite Color? I love red and have a red kitchen, but I like to wear magenta.
28. What songs do you sing in the shower? I don't sing in the shower, I think about the things that I need to get done that day. I also write blogs in my head (aren't you glad you know this now!)
29. Would you be a pirate? Yup! They get to live on boats and travel the world. So what if they might break a few laws - they know how to have fun!
30. Favorite Girl's Name? ??
31. Favorite boy's name? ??
32. What's in your pocket right now? Nothing, it is all in the backpack.
33. Last thing that made you laugh? When I got yelled at in D.C. about taking the picture of Kermit.
34. What vehicle do you drive? Subaru Impreza WRX (it's for sale you know)
35. Worst injury you've ever had? I have had a little string of some nasty bumps lately, not too serious. Although I have broken my nose three times (let's not talk about that....)
36. Do you love where you live? YES, but someplace new sometime might be great too.
37. How many TVs do you have in your house? Two, both for watching movies.

Enjoy ~SJ


Yesterday Walden University held a little Presidential trivia contest after the inauguration. Fortunately for SJ they handed out the questions before the contest and I had a chance to Google them. My luck must be swinging more towards the lucky end recently because I answered the following question correctly: What card game did Dwight D. Eisenhower play fanatically while planning for D-Day?

And what did I win? A book from the speaker for Thursday afternoon, Donna Brazile, Cooking With Grease: Stirring the Pots In America.

Enjoy ~SJ

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Friday Night Knitting Club

While traveling on Sunday I read Friday Night Knitting Club, it was a wonderful fast read that helped the long hours pass making me wish when I was done that I had brought along my knitting project.

Here is what the Barnes and Noble website had to say about it:
The New York Times bestselling sensation that's "Steel Magnolias set in Manhattan" (USA Today)-now in paperback.

Juggling the demands of her yarn shop and single-handedly raising a teenage daughter has made Georgia Walker grateful for her Friday Night Knitting Club. Her friends are happy to escape their lives too, even for just a few hours. But when Georgia's ex suddenly reappears, demanding a role in their daughter's life, her whole world is shattered.

Luckily, Georgia's friends are there, sharing their own tales of intimacy, heartbreak, and miracle making. And when the unthinkable happens, these women will discover that what they've created isn't just a knitting club: it's a sisterhood.

There is a sequel out, Knit Two, but not in paperback yet. Let's hope that the library has it when I get home!

Enjoy ~SJ

Kermit and Obama

I was stuck in D.C. for a few extra hours on my travels to Dallas. Not a bad place to get stuck considering they were getting ready for the inauguration. One gift shop was dedicated to only Obama gear - they even had a bobble head Obama (you know you have made it when you are a bobble head, personally I would rather a bobble feet SJ). I decided to take a picture of Kermit with a bobble Obama to share with my students when I got back.

On another note, I think I have found a new theme of pictures - my mini Kermit in various locations. It has been really fun coming up with new places to put him.

Ok, now back to Bobble Obama.... so after I took the picture a Obama gift shop employee came over to yell at me that you can't take pictures in the store. WHAT? No pictures in the store? I tried to explain that I am a teacher, this is my classroom mascot, and that I'm just going to share with my students back in rural Maine. This was not ok with the employee, so I slinked off to waste my time in yet another store.

Enjoy ~SJ

When In A Red State.... as the red state?

Things are always bigger and better in Texas, at least that is what they say. Well, the rental car is small, but it is American made (Chevy Cobolt). Oh, and since I'm in a red state the car too is red - what are the chances? Today on this great day of change it has been interesting being in Texas. The DJ on the radio this morning kept talking about "Our Guy" and "Their Guy". It is clear everywhere that this state is not happy about this great change, but they are willing to accept it.

This afternoon I am off to the JFK museum, thought it might be a fitting day to visit.

Enjoy ~SJ

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm Free At Last

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Those famous words could not sum up my day any better, and how timely!

Enjoy ~SJ

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I'm here in the Great State of Texas! More to come later (sorry no feet pics, but have have some funny ones of Kermit The Frog traveling). Will share more later.

Enjoy ~SJ

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another Blog Quiz

Thanks Rach for this one!

You Are Cumin

You are warm, unique, and pretty dominant.

It's also pretty likely that you smoke or like fire.

You are energetic and intense. You definitely stimulate people.


On my way to work on this frigid day (-25 degrees) I was trying to come up with some picture to take for Skywatch Friday. The trick was I didn't want to have to be outside of my car. When I arrived at our new elementary school (long story, but I'm working there a little as well as my regular gig) I noticed this amazing view. The new elementary school sits on top of a hill and the steam was rising off from the river. I realized that if I parked my car right I could snap the picture from the drivers seat and never leave the comfort of my heated seats!

Enjoy ~SJ

Thursday, January 15, 2009

One More Thing Off The List!

My last few days at work have been filled with lists of chores to get done before my departure to Texas next week. Getting a classroom ready for your week long absence is no easy task. There are long letters to write to the sub, activities to be created and then photocopied, lists to make, and then check twice. At the bottom of my to-do list this week has been "clean desk", which not only meant to pick up the clutter, but to also literally wipe the dust that has been collecting in its corners. A friend of mine at work has been joking with me that I will never get to that item on the list. Well, today after all of my homeroom left to enjoy their afternoon, I removed everything from my desk, wiped it down, and then only put the necessary items back on it. Thought I better take a picture of it so that I can always remember what a clean desk looks like.

Enjoy ~SJ

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

SJ's Beat Gets A Face Lift

* * Please make sure that you understand the title as stating that SJ's Beat for a face lift and NOT SJ **

If you only ever read my blog through your RSS feed Google Reader, please take a second to travel over to my newly improved blog page. I have worked really hard this evening (translation: wasted a ton of time) working on a new heading and picked a new layout. I really am proud of the new pics at the top of the page.

Also, don't forget to go and visit what The Mother has to say on her new blog. She is really on a roll with some pretty funny stuff. Oh, and RVB-ers, what do you think about making her a RVB?

Enjoy ~SJ

The Mother Goes Techy!

As The Music Man put it "the end of the world is near...." My Mother started a blog (without my help might I add). VERY impressive! You have to understand that My Mother is not technology challenged, since she is retired she is just hasn't been immersed in it as much as others are. Well Mom, you have blown SJ away with your creation of your own blog. I know that you will enjoy blogging once you get started (and you already have the hard part all done). I know that you will keep us all in stitches with your witty postings, oh please do the "blingo" blog post soon!

Regular and irregular readers please add The Mother's blog to your RSS feed, or links, or however you keep up on your blogs. Her blog link is: sledgirl

Enjoy ~SJ

Monday, January 12, 2009

Powering Google

I read this today on the Official Google Blog. I had never thought of the fact that when I do an internet search there are some sort of infrastructure out there powering my search. Thought I would share this amazing post in case you aren't as geeky as me and have an RSS feed on the Official Google Blog.

Not long ago, answering a query meant traveling to the reference desk of your local library. Today, search engines enable us to access immense quantities of useful information in an instant, without leaving home. Tools like email, online books and photos, and video chat all increase productivity while decreasing our reliance on car trips, pulp and paper.

But as computers become a bigger part of more people's lives, information technology consumes an increasing amount of energy, and Google takes this impact seriously. That's why we have designed and built the most energy efficient data centers in the world, which means the energy used per Google search is minimal. In fact, in the time it takes to do a Google search, your own personal computer will use more energy than Google uses to answer your query.

Recently, though, others have used much higher estimates, claiming that a typical search uses "half the energy as boiling a kettle of water" and produces 7 grams of CO2. We thought it would be helpful to explain why this number is *many* times too high. Google is fast — a typical search returns results in less than 0.2 seconds. Queries vary in degree of difficulty, but for the average query, the servers it touches each work on it for just a few thousandths of a second. Together with other work performed before your search even starts (such as building the search index) this amounts to 0.0003 kWh of energy per search, or 1 kJ. For comparison, the average adult needs about 8000 kJ a day of energy from food, so a Google search uses just about the same amount of energy that your body burns in ten seconds.

In terms of greenhouse gases, one Google search is equivalent to about 0.2 grams of CO2. The current EU standard for tailpipe emissions calls for 140 grams of CO2 per kilometer driven, but most cars don't reach that level yet. Thus, the average car driven for one kilometer (0.6 miles for those of in the U.S.) produces as many greenhouse gases as a thousand Google searches.

We've made great strides to reduce the energy used by our data centers, but we still want clean and affordable sources of electricity for the power that we do use. In 2008 our philanthropic arm,, invested $45 million in breakthrough clean energy technologies. And last summer, as part of our Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal initiative (RE), we created an internal engineering group dedicated to exploring clean energy.

We're also working with other members of the IT community to improve efficiency on a broader scale. In 2007 we co-founded the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, a group which champions more efficient computing. This non-profit consortium is committed to cutting the energy consumed by computers in half by 2010 — reducing global CO2 emissions by 54 million tons per year. That's a lot of kettles of tea.

Posted by Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President, Operations

Enjoy ~SJ

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sometimes The Horoscope Is Right

Between excessive blogging today I have been working on getting ready to go to my doctoral residency in Dallas, Texas next week. I don't read my horoscope on a regular basis or base my day around what it says, but I do like to see what the stars have lined up for me every now and then. Well, today's couldn't have been more fitting:

You have your feet on the ground today, yet, fortunately, the Moon is now emphasizing your 9th House of Adventure. You are ready for that big trip, yet first you need to go over all the details one more time. Even if you don't find anything awry, you still must go through all the data with a fine-toothed comb. Solid preparation paves the way to a successful journey.

I guess today the horoscope was right on track.

Enjoy ~SJ

What I Learned This Week

This week was a little different week for me. I started substituting for the Gifted and Talented teacher along with my regular teaching responsibilities. This gave me a whole new insight into an age group of students I don't normally work with.

  • Walk the elementary school students everywhere.
  • Basic operations with fractions have a lot of steps to remember - this makes them very hard to learn.
  • Monday's are very challenging days after long vacations.
  • Remember to make time for things that you enjoy.
  • What seems like a huge problem sometimes have simple solutions.
What did you learn this week?

Enjoy ~SJ

Being Thrifty

Thrifty –adjective, thrift⋅i⋅er, thrift⋅i⋅est.
1. practicing thrift or economical management; frugal: a thrifty shopper.

A recently read an article from Yahoo Finance outlining seven things that you can do to save money.

  • Buy a bread maker. You can buy one for $55. If it saves you just $4 a week on store-bought bread, that's $208 a year. A 280% return.
  • Get a credit card with a great sign-up bonus. Like the AirTran Visa card. Cost: The $40 annual fee. After your first purchase you get enough reward miles for a free flight, saving maybe $250. Then cancel the card. Return: 525%.
  • Take out a local library card. Cost: Nothing. If it saves you $10 a month on books, that's $120 a year. Return: Infinite. Note: Some libraries now let you borrow electronic books over the Internet as well.
  • Replace your premium cable package with a Netflix subscription and a $100 set-top box. You can download movies and TV programs as well getting DVDs through the mail. Cost: $100 for the cheapest set-top box, plus $17 a month for a three-movie subscription. If it replaces a $50-a-month cable package, that's a 98% return on investment.
  • Order a packet of seeds and plant them in a window box or garden. Growing your own herbs, spices, and even vegetables – depending on the amount of space you have – is a great investment. If you spent just $10 on seeds and saved a mere $50 in the year, that's a 400% ROI.
  • Switch to a prepaid cellphone. Cost: $20 for the phone, and maybe $100 a year for minutes. Move the rest of your talk-time to free Internet calls, and stop hemorrhaging $60 a month on a cellular plan. ROI: 500%
  • Start making your own coffee to take to work each morning. Cost: $20 for a Thermos, $10 for a filter and papers, and $60 a year for ground coffee. Then skip the $4 a day drive-thru. If that saves you $1,000 a year, the return is more than 1,000 %.
I started making my own bread on a regular basis a few years ago. I don't do credit cards, sorry. I have a library card and utilize a network of friends for book swapping. Haven't had cable for a year now, and am enjoying my Netflix account tremendously. The Music Man is already planning the garden for next year, increasing the size and variety of things grown. My Mother and I are on a family cell phone plan, she had problems with the pre-paid route. And sadly, I cut out my regular trips to the Corner Store (D.U.) every morning for a travel mug of homemade java.

So what is a trifty Mainer left to do? Anymore suggestions?

Enjoy ~SJ


Saturday has be my favorite day of the week. There is no work, there is no pressure of work the next day. It is the only day of the week where I truly feel as though the day is all for me. Although it is a day for me, I do tend to have a little routine for Saturdays, and I just love it. Here's a normal Saturday:

Sleep in late
Get up, surf the internet and drink coffee
Go out and take care of the trash/bottles
Get more coffee
Go to Marden's, or Dollar Store, or Wal-Mart, or grocery store
Go home

That's it. Simple. I get to wander around stores and drink coffee and get a few chores done. I think that I like it because like most other days there is no agenda of things that need to get taken care of. Also, since I always get a few chores done it isn't like the whole day is a waste.

What do you do on Saturday?

Enjoy ~SJ

Saturday, January 10, 2009

N Is For.....

...New Days

Every now and then we all have bad days. One of the biggest challenges of a bad day for me is to make it through the day without letting what is making my day so bad effecting everything around me. I know that when I am having a bad day I try to take time to look through my pictures in iPhoto and remember how much fun I had when those pictures were taken. The pictures featured in this blog I took one morning while at Old Orchard Beach. I woke up early, got a cup of coffee and walked the beach with the task of capturing the beach through my eyes with my trusty camera. My favorite picture of the bunch is the self-portrait; coffee in hand camera to my face. Remembering how much I enjoyed myself that morning helps get through bad days.

Enjoy ~SJ

Friday, January 9, 2009

Don't Ya Just Love The Marden's Lady?

Ok,I wouldn't say that I love her, but she certainly sticks with you. Recently I discovered that the Marden's lady, a.k.a.Birdie Googins, as actually a well accomplished actress. According to the Maine Arts Commission, Karmo (Martha) Sanders, the Marden's Ladies real name has her masters degree from Boston University. The Maine Arts Commission goes on to say:
Formerly associated with Radical Radio, a musical extravaganza for young people which opened Off Broadway and toured the East Coast for five years, Ms. Sanders collaborated as an actress, writer, and producer of that show. A dedicated writer she looks forward to working in educational settings. "There is nothing more rewarding in the entire world, than watching young people awakening in a discovery of their own creativity. The art of understanding and writing dialogue is imperative. Whether in plays, screenplays or fiction believable dialogue is vital to a writer. I offer fun, simple keys and tools composed specifically to unleash the voices within the character.
The Birdie Googins website says:

The last thing in the whole world Birdie (aka: the Marden's Lady) expected - was becoming a super model. She's been called a phenomenon in Southern Maine; up North she's an icon. Finding herself with the status of a super model has its challenges: keeping her mascara from running while racing from the paparrazzi being just one of them.

But being a star also has its rewards: everybody and anybody she meets speaks to her. And that's a joy, walking around the world talking to strangers. Finds out she's wicked popular. She can't go through a toll booth without being asked, "Are you the Marden's Lady?"

'Course as Birdie always says: "Hard for people sometimes, seeing me up close and personal. I'm much more glamorous in real life here aren't I?" A lady at an Irving station once asked about the Marden's commercials: "Are you really having that much fun?" The answer: absolutely!

And of course, if you just haven't had your fill of her wonderful commercials you can always watch more at the Marden's webiste.

While I'm doing this little plug for Birdie I might as well also mention that she can be hired as a personality for functions. You may contact her through Utobia Model and Talent: 207.725.1364 or

Enjoy ~SJ


The view in the back yard, I just love how the sun filters through the trees.

Enjoy ~SJ

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

While The Feeders Away....

Ok, Phoebe and Stanley have launched themselves into a whole other level of cat mischievous while the Feeders are at work. We all know that Phoebe has a thing for destroying toilet paper. Her new thing is to try to get the shreds in as many rooms as possible, current high score of four rooms. Well now she has worked her way up the paper chain and her new choice paper product is newsprint. Yesterday I came home to an Uncle Henry's newsprint magazine shredded all over the house. The majority of the contents were left in the toilet! (I restrained myself from taking a photo of it, I wasn't sure how you would feel about seeing my toilet or how I felt about my toilet bowl being plastered all over the internet). Now and Uncle Henry's magazine is not a light object for a cat to lift up. I am guessing that it required both Phoebe and Stanley to achieve this feat.

Any suggestions?

Enjoy ~SJ

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Vacations Are Great...

.... but, the first day back to work after a nice long two week vacation is tough. Yesterday was a rough day. Not so much the getting up and getting ready part, although the alarm clock was a bit alarming. It was when all the things on my to-do-list were done and I was at home sitting on the couch. I started reading a biography on Houdini a few days ago, and all day long I was excited to read more of it. By the time in the day came where I could read the book my mind was too tired I couldn't concentrate and the fascinating story of the Handcuff King. Maybe this feeling will get to be less by the end of the week, if not I might need another vacation.

Enjoy ~SJ

Sunday, January 4, 2009

M Is For...

...My Mother!

My Mother at Disney World, her favorite place, circa 1992 (sorry Mom for the not so flattering photo, but I have always liked this one of you).

My Mother, maybe my number one blog fan although she never writes a comment, pointed out the other day that I am about half way through my ABC blog postings and she has not been the subject of one yet. She also wanted to point out that she feels she has been the topic of enough blog entries. Well here you go Mom, it doesn't get any better than this!

My Mother and I are close, really close, like best friend close. We talk on the phone at least once a day, mostly when I am in the car driving around. We talk about everything and nothing all at the same time, it is kind of like Seinfeld, conversations about nothing! (Seinfeld, now there is one of our favorite TV shows, right up there with Alf)

When I was in college I think that she sat by the phone from the moment I left Maine until I got back from Boston. If I didn't call her as soon as I got back to my dorm room she would immediately have visions of me "dead on the tracks somewhere". These visions would lead to her calling my cell phone until she reached me. She still has these visions to this day, until I call her and inform her that I am not "dead on the tracks somewhere".

One of my funniest memories of My Mother and I involves the meatloaf birthday cake inspired by Miss Martha. I blogged about this earlier, here is an expert from that blog posting:

Since it was around both of our birthdays we decided to make one of these birthday meatloaves. We followed Miss Martha's directions to the T. We decided that we would trump Miss Martha's meatloaf by putting it on one of the many cake stands that I own (this was the beginning of the end!) We had not thought about the fact that meatloaf is naturally juicy, and if it was placed on a cake stand the juices would have no place to go other than the counter and then the floor. As we started to attempt to "frost" the cake the juices began to run. Gretal, Moms daschund, was of course underfoot and began to lick the running juices. The meatloaf was crumbling everywhere and was getting more and more difficult to "frost". At this point we were laughing hysterically, and I said "Mom, just imagine, there are disastrous meatloaf birthday cakes all across the country right now!"
Time with My Mother typically involves laughing and imagining. When I was little we would create these elaborate stories about our pets and the secret lives that they lived when we were not home. We would write stories together, typically involving animals. We would read books aloud to one another (we still do this today). My Mother instilled in me the value of creativity and humor. My Mother also tried to instill in me the importance of folding laundry, but for some reason that one just didn't stick.

My Mother is a retired teacher, who now enjoys substituting. Every now and then she subs in my classroom. This is always a little treat for my students since math is not her strongest subject, but she tries very hard when she is in my classroom. The students always love her since she will entertain them with a few stories about me when I was little. Of course these stories usually involve telling them how much of a math geek I was at a young age, but they entertain the kids none the less.

I think all tolled up she is the best Mom you could ask for. She always makes you laugh, is always there to talk to, she doesn't judge you even when she thinks you are making the wrong decision (lets not go down that path), and will always come over the fold my laundry and make fresh cookies.

Enjoy ~SJ

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Charlie Brown's New Years Resolution

I just caught the tail end of Happy New Year Charlie Brown. Towards the end of the movie Peppermint Patty asks Chuck what his New Years Rules are going to be. He responds to her with something like this:
"Be nicer to people, don't leave the crayons in the sun, water the plan more, don't volunteer to chair a committee, and remember to feed the dog as much as he wants whenever he wants."

That about sums it up, if we all lived by these rules what a happier place our world would be. There would be fewer committees, more crayons, and happier people, pets and plants. Stanley would love the kibble increase!

Enjoy ~SJ


Here is a shot I took Christmas morning of the view of Hummarock Beach. It was too cold and windy to go down to the beach for the actual shot. Not only do you beach and sky, but you also get my feet. How much better can it get. Happy Skywatch Friday (Saturday now).

Enjoy ~SJ

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year Brings New Luck?

I would not describe myself as lucky by any stretch of the imagination. I also would not say that I am unlucky. I guess you could describe me as luck average. Well folks, it is all changing in this new year (technically the end of last year, but I'm hoping the wave continues through at least February). Rach, one of the fellow River Valley Bloggers ran a contest on her blog last week. The task was simple, she posted a picture of a photo of hers and all you had to do was write a comment to get a chance at winning a print. Since Rach has to be my number one commenter, and I may be her number one commenter, I wrote a nice comment. Wel,l on December 31 I got the exciting news, I WON! The photo is to the left, I snagged it from her blog.

Enjoy ~SJ