Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Release

I have a love/hate relationship with Apple.  I really do like all the Apple products I own.  My phone, iPad, and Macbook all work very well for my needs, and because they are all Apple they also work very well together.  I can access pictures I took on my phone from the iPad or Macbook and text and make phone calls on my iPad and Macbook via the phone, to name a few of those working together ways.
Every-so-often though, they do something that irks me a bit.  When they switched from the 30 pin connector to the lightning connector, pretty much every accessory I owned had to be repurchased to accommodate this change.  They said it was to allow for more room for a larger battery, but part of me speculates changes like that happen to make customers buy new stuff.  They've made the phone just slightly different in size or shape in each release too, which means a new case every time as well.  I was also ready to disown my beloved iPhone a few years ago when there was news about the poor working conditions at their factories overseas.  After numerous suicides (jumping off buildings) over these conditions, the company installed nets rather than fix the problems.  I found the fact that companies, like Apple (as well as other tech giants), that make more money than they can even count were making this money on the back of these overworked/underpaid workers just deplorable.  And while I was ready to jump the Apple ship, all the tech companies are doing it so there doesn't seem to be an alternative to that with the exception of going tech-less, which I'm not so sure I can do.
Anyhow, earlier this month Apple announced the upcoming iPhone 7.  The next number release is always anticipated because that's when all the new features are shown.  Some of the changes are a better camera in lowlight (which has been one of my complaints on the iPhone for years), a (slightly) longer battery life, and water resistant.  However it seems as if the phone being damaged by water isn't covered under the warranty, soooo.  But the biggest change, in my opinion, is the removal of the headphone jack.
THE REMOVAL OF THE HEADPHONE JACK!?!?!  Apple has decided that the headphone jack is outdated technology.  Could be, but I see it as another chance for Apple to make us all purchase new stuff.  Funnily enough, they've come out with some new blue tooth headphones.  The thing about blue tooth is if you don't have a connection, you can't connect to bluetooth.  Guess what you don't need a bluetooth connection for...THE HEADPHONE JACK!  To make the transition a bit easier the new phone will come out with a special dongle that will allow us old-folks to still connect our outdated technology.  It's better than nothing, but I'm not a fan of the dongle.  Plus, it's one more thing you've got to remember to take with you.  And I wonder what people will do who have those very expensive noise canceling headphones.  I have never splurged on a pair for myself, but I bought my mom a pair of Bose a couple of years ago for all her travels.  She loves them.  I can't afford to buy her another pair of bluetooth ones!
Ugh!  I'm really an Apple girl, but this change might just put me over the edge.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Temps

One of my biggest cooking challenges is cooking large pieces of meat on the grill or roasting them in the oven.  It is not something I do all that often, but when I do I'm pretty bad at it.  This week was no exception.  The recipe I attempted used a nice little pork loin rubbed in brown sugar, garlic, and olive oil and cooked on a roasting pan with carrots and potatoes.  Once the prep is finished (about 10 minutes cutting and rubbing), the beauty of this dish is that it goes in the oven and you don't do anything for about 45 minutes, so it basically is supposed to cook itself without any help from the outside.  
Just like every other time I have tried to cook big meat (for lack of better description), it didn't go as planned.
After 45-50 minutes, the pork loin was supposed to be at 150.  At that time, it was to be removed in order to rest for about 15 minutes while the veggies finished cooking.  However, after about 50 minutes, my meat thermometer showed it hadn't made much progress.  
 Now I have to say, that I have this never ending battle with my meat thermometer.  It is OLD, but that is sometimes a good thing (I keep telling myself).  There is an internal debate I have about whether or not I need to keep the thermometer in the meat while cooking or not.  Since it's not an instant read, it takes time to show the temp and by then I'm not sure if that is even correct.  When I research this topic, some websites say that I should leave it in while cooking and others say not to.  I talk myself in and out of what to do, mostly because if it is inside the oven isn't it taking the temp of the oven?
I don't know.  After the initial temp above, I kept the thermometer in the pork loin and stuck it back in the oven.  It was over 150 when I pulled it out the next time and thought, "Hooray!  It's ready!".  It rested while the veggies finished cooking.  And when I cut into it after 15 minutes, it was still pink.  "They" say pork can be a little pink, but I can't do that.  So back in the oven it went, this time without the thermometer inside.  Going on about an hour and half later at this point, the pan was removed and the temperature was 150, at least that is what the thermometer said.
I'm not entirely confident that my trusty OLD meat thermometer is all that accurate and after all these years of owning it (after inheriting it), so I finally broke down and bought a new instant read one.  I'm not entirely convinced it'll work either.  What if I'm the problem!?!?    


Friday, September 9, 2016

Boombastic!

This week's Saturday 9 song is a fun one.  I actually listened to Shaggy (along with Maxi Priest) back in the 90s.  Reggae-fusion is good for the soul.

1) This song is a rather shameless come-on by an accomplished ladies' man. Do you enjoy flirting?  Hmmm, I don't think so.  I find that I'm not particularly good at it when it counts.  
2) Shaggy sings that he's like a turtle coming out of his shell. Do you think turtles, snakes and lizards make good pets? Or would you prefer a companion animal that has fur or feathers?  I do not think reptiles make good pets.  I like turtles, but not as a pet.  Furry animals are best, preferably a dog or a horse.
3) He also sings that if you don't feel like driving, you should hand him the keys. Are you comfortable letting others drive your car?  I don't mind at all.  
4) He tries to woo the girl with the promise of a bubble bath. Do you enjoy relaxing in the tub? Or do you view baths and showers as simply part of your hygiene routine, like brushing your teeth? Baths (tied with yoga) are the least relaxing relaxing-thing I can think of.  I find them boring and kind of gross - who wants to sit in their own body-water for any length of time...blech!   Who has time for that!?!?  And maybe because I've only ever had a regular size bathtub I don't know how to keep both my knees and my boobs covered at the same time.  Showers are my preference
5) Born Orville Burrell, Shaggy took his stage name from his shaggy hair. Using your hair as inspiration, what would your stage name be?  Ha!  Having a mind of its own wouldn't be a very good stage name.
6) Sam admits she hadn't thought about this 20+ year old song in years, until she heard it on a Chase Bank commercial. According to the Federal Reserve Bank, checkwriting dropped more than 50% between 2000 and 2010. Who received the last check you wrote?  I wrote a check recently to the contractor who repaired/painted my home's fascia.  I also wrote one to the groomers.  I so rarely write them anymore.  I pay, when I can, with my cell phone or credit card, quick, quick, quick.  This afternoon at the grocery store I was behind a woman who paid by check and it quite literally was a 5 minutes process between her writing it, then the checker checking ID and writing the info on the check, and then sending the check through the register, and then the woman having to fix the check because she wrote the two amounts on the check differently.  ARGHHHHHHH!
7)  Which would you prefer to receive in a birthday card: a $25 check or a $20 Target gift card? I've got a bday coming up, so either is fine.  ;)
8) Sam's mother refuses to pay bills online. All the news stories about data breaches scare her. Have you ever been hacked? If so, did it take long to get the situation resolved? I've never had an issue with my online banking (knock on wood) and it is so easy.  I have had my credit card number used on fraudulent purchases on a couple of separate occasions.  The cc company always took care of it without hassle, other than waiting for a new card and having to change any billing information.

9) In 1995, when this song was popular, Michael Jordan "unretired" and returned to the Chicago Bulls. Tell us about a decision you made that you wish you could undo. Recently, I wish I could undo the decision to be a teacher a lot more often than I ever used to.  

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Dates

When I am working, the day's date is quite important.  My students and I write the date several times a day and the date is used in any type of planning I do which happens all the time.  For my entire teaching career, I've had a large academic pocket chart calendar hanging in the front of the room and that calendar would get referenced often.
This year has been different though.  My school district adopted a new math program, and that program has a component that includes a daily calendar activity.  "The Calendar" process is something that kindergarten and first usually do - they count the number of days in school, learn the days/months, and represent the numbers in various ways (coins, tens/ones, etc), but few second grade teachers do because our math is more complex by then.  The calendar component in our program goes beyond the "old-school" way and allows for a lot of higher level skills and student discourse.  I mostly like it.
The one issue I have had is that the calendar date cards have patterns on them, and so they are kept turned around until that date so the students can make predictions.  It's a great learning activity, but it is useless to me as a calendar because I can't see the future dates.  For the first few days of the new school year I'd look up, kind of lost, looking for the date.  I thought about putting up my other calendar just to see the dates, but it's quite large and space is tricky.  A hanging wall calendar was an option, but then I decided a dry erase calendar would be best for my needs.  And since having a matchy-match cute classroom makes me a better teacher (said sarcastically) I decided it couldn't just be any old Staples' dry erase calendar.
I had seen some on Pinterest made out of picture frames, which was the direction I went.  I found a cheap frame at Target.  After taking the matting out, it had a 14"x18" opening.  Many measurement calculations took place to finally narrow down my sizing - 2"x2" squares evenly spaced around a 1-1/2 inch border.  I cut down post-it notes to the square size and used them to layout where I wanted everything.
One at a time the post-its were replaced with squares of red and blue cardstock.
I added little day-of-the-week tags at the time.   If I were to do it again, I would have moved everything down a bit in order to center the entire shape.  
Once inside the frame, it's completely customizable when using a dry erase marker.
August's calendar...
and September's.
I wish the blue matched the the blue of the boards a little better, but I thought the muted colors would be better to see the marker.  I'm happy with how it turned out, and it's made date planning much easier.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A Getup

My mom is in town for a few days, and we went downtown this afternoon to have lunch.  We crawled back home on the freeway due to bumper-to-bumper traffic so decided to exit the freeway in Burbank to kill some time while the traffic subsided.  Burbank has a couple of fairly nice shopping areas including a Macy's.  Armed with coupons we went in looking at handbags.  I've been eyeing one in particular for a few months now, but being rather pricey I hadn't taken the plunge.  Mom's coupons would help, so I planned to visit the bag again and decide once and for all to spend the money or not.
After all the sitting in traffic, we had to make a pitstop to the restroom before shopping.  The Macy's restrooms, or lounges as they call them, are usually quite nice, but this one was kind of cruddy.  Overall, aesthetically it was old and worn, not what you would expect from a Macy's.  I'm not usually a restroom snob because when you've got to use one, it's hard to be all that picky.  However, there was something about this getup that had me wondering.
It would seem to me if a store is asking me to pay high prices on a handbag, they can afford to hang their toilet paper on something other than plastic bags.  I thought it might be a one-off in the stall I was in, but my mom and another lady both commented on their getup too.  This seems very un-Macy's like, however it gave me a good laugh.
And yes, I did get the bag.
 It smells so good!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Well, It's About That Time

Today was the first day back in the classroom after a long, relaxing summer (that still went entirely too fast).  The kids start back on Thursday, so the hope is to finish getting the room ready tomorrow and Wednesday.  Maybe it's the 17 year itch, but I'm having a really hard time motivating and getting excited about it.  I know once Thursday comes around and the kids arrive I'll be back in the groove pretty quickly.  And as much as I hate to admit it, back into a routine as well.  Other than the getting up early routine.  I don't like that one very much.
Just some funnies to get you in the back-to-school mood right along with me. :)
This video makes me laugh out loud every time.  It's so true! Other than the starting in September part.
There have been A LOT of those lately...taking all the fun out of learning.

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Comedy Book

Back in April, I attended the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.  This event might be my most favorite event of the year.  It is always such a fun day -  speakers, curious topics, and great literature.  For a reader, it's like a book carnival.  Plus, it makes me feel smart to be there.
Each year, we attend 5-6 sessions on various topics but always make sure at least one of them includes comedy writers.  This year was no exception as we went to a session called "Make 'Em Laugh: A Look at Comedy from All Sides".  The speakers were Jon Macks (author and television writer most known for "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" as well as numerous entertainment award shows), Kliph Nesteroff (author/stand up comedian), and Kenneth Turan (author/USC Writing Professor/LA Times' film critic).  It was a well-rounded, funny, and so very interesting panel.  Their stories about all aspects of comedy had us engaged and rolling with laughter.  I was especially taken with Nesteroff's stories.  He is known as the "King of Comedy Lore" so his accounts of famous comedians that we all know and love were fascinating, and I made note to check out his book once summer arrived.
I downloaded The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy back in June and JUST finished it last week.  In my defense, I was reading a book book simultaneously which split my reading time in two.  Anyhow, while this book is not my usual genre of choice, I did really enjoy it.  Even though it was only 432 pages, it was a slow read as non-fiction often is.  It wasn't slow because it was uninteresting, but rather due to all the names and facts.  This book basically told the history of comedy in the 20th century - from Vaudeville in the 1920s to the effects of the 9/11 attacks on the direction of comedy in America.  It was told in chronological anecdotes which were amusing.  While most of the comedians included are well-known "greats" (The Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields, Jack Benny, George Burns, Johnny Carson, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin,  Dave Letterman, etc), lesser known comics were given equal time.  I was fascinated by the connection between comedy/comedy clubs and the Mob which was the case for several decades.  Closing the book with the change in comedy after the NYC and Washington DC terrorist attacks, which is coming up on 15 years ago, many of the comedians mentioned as up-and-coming comedy writers (Louis C.K., Jon Stewart, Judd Apatow, Stephen Colbert to name a few) are now in the spotlight as great comedians.  Of course the author would have known that as the book is rather recent, but I did like that connection.
 There is only one criticism I have.  While I understand that women in comedy were rare for quite a few decades, I do wish more detail was included about women comedians.  Women were written about in the book, but after reading, I wanted there to be more than just a mention here and there.  This issue didn't detract from the book by any means, and I would still recommend it.

These are some of the quotes I noted that were either poignant or just made me chuckle...

"Lenny Bruce joked that Chicago was the only city where death certificates listed a cause of death as 'He wouldn't listen'." (referring to the Mob)

"(Vaughn) Meader was hired to play JFK, but most record labels turned the idea down.  They felt it was out of bounds to ridicule the president." (Times have changed!)

"(Lenny) Bruce was busted at Doug Weston's Troubadour on his return to Los Angeles.  The crime was titillating Yiddish.  The offending words noted in the police report were 'fressing, schmuck, putz, schtup, and tuchas.'  Bruce was busted so often that comedian Herkie Styles started traveling to his gigs as an emergency understudy." (Even in 1966 comedians were arrested for inappropriateness.)

"Back in the old days it was run by the Mafia and run quite efficiently.  You could see the greatest entertainment in the world at low cost.  Now that the town is run by businessmen, the prices are outrageous.  Every department must show a profit.  In the old days, the Mafia let the casino carry the whole operation." (About Las Vegas)

Some of the most famous comedy clubs in Los Angeles did not pay their comedians, feeling that the exposure was enough.  In the 70s, the comedians decided to form a union...
"Comedians knew they needed a united front in order to get paid.  The Comedy Store was targeted rather than the Improv, as it was the most profitable.  Meetings were hosted in the homes of Elayne Booster and Jimmie Walker, but it was tough to get the comedians to engage in serious discussion.  'Jay (Leno), bless his heart, couldn't sit still,' said David Letterman. 'He was behaving like a hyperactive child.  Jumping up and down, being funny and distracting to the point where everybody sort of thought, well maybe we shouldn't tell Jay about the next meeting'."
"'Jay Leno was a loose cannon', says (Tom) Dreesen.  'I'd say Jay, Jay, Jay!'  Gallagher was yelling, 'We'll burn the fucking place down!'  They were all in disarray.  I began to take charge of the meetings so they could get something done...It was hysterical - comedians at a union meeting.  People were in the bathroom doing cocaine."  (That visual made me laugh out loud).