Sunday, June 20, 2010


Have you ever been to a bus race? Crash-a-rama is an event, I'm telling you. Old school buses do figure eights around a short track in opposite directions. Thus the crash factor comes into play as they meet head-on in the middle of the eight. There are several warm-up events. The boat race has been first in the past. No, boats are not fitted with engines. Instead they are dragged behind a stock car sans trailer and the crowd cheers as they disintegrate; debris flies. The destruction is incredible and the crowd? Always interesting to watch. Usually there are a few stunts too. The last time I took Rick to Crash-a-rama (a birthday gift to him), an old Cadillac attempted to knock over a school bus that was standing on end--the car just rammed right into it. Very primitive these events.

Since I am working out of town, Rick and Collin went to the buses races for a little father-son time. They kept me up to speed by texting me messages and pictures.

Text messages (along with my thinking) from last night's fete went like this:

We rode a race bus! (Do they have seat belts on those things?)
Lots of buck tooth here (Only had 1 buck tooth or a matching set?)
Larry the Cable Guy is here (Well he is from Sanford.)
Elvis jumped 3 buses! (Elvis? Elvis is at the race track?!)

With the last text I event got a fiery picture. Elvis is the name of the stock car and maybe the driver, I'm not sure. Rick assured me he survived the Evil Knieval like attempt.

I spent an hour trying to figure out how to get the picture from my not-so-smart phone that does not connect to my computer or the internet. I'd love a new phone, but I'm frugal. So I did a little research.

I found a helpful list of mashable tools for sharing pics on twitter and figured if I could get the photo online, I could save it. Seems I used to be able to bluetooth connect the phone to the computer before this one to share files, but alas, no longer. I settled on Mobypicture, so above is Elvis jumping the buses. What was the fire? Perhaps an explosion for dramatic effect? I wonder.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I'm working (writing curriculum for Plugged-in to Nonfiction), but I just had to stop for a minute and write about my experience with Ask a Librarian. Did you even know that Florida offers such a service? I didn't, but it was like a wish come true this evening.

You see I'm working on curriculum to go with our next book in Plugged-in to Nonfiction. Our team generates teaching ideas around a core text and then we turn those ideas into teaching guides and student activities. The core text I'm working with right now talks about disasters, natural and man-made. A great topic for students, right? While reading about the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire I got to thinking about a book I used in college to shop responsibly. The book provided consumers with checklists and charts which compared American companies on a range of social issues (the environment, labor practices, treatement of women, etc.). I got to thinking. Wouldn't it be interesting for students to research their favorite brands/companies in order to investigate labor practices.

Well that 's where I hit a wall. I couldn't find such an index online and I couldn't remember the name of the book. I was chasing rabbits. Struggling with search terms. Wishing I were friends with a research librarian I could skype, I thought: Wouldn't it be great if we had Ask a Librarian like we have Ask a Nuse? I googled it and lo and behold, we do! How can I be a teacher and not know this?
I had a fruitful chat with Dani L. from PBCLS (maybe Palm Beach County Library System?) and she not only pointed me to online databases I could access with my library card, but she also dug for that book I remembered. She found it and she found one printed more recently (The Better World Shopping Guide: Every Dollar Makes a Difference). I capitalized on the search terms our converstion bubbled up and found Better World Shopper, an online resource that grades companies on social issues.(much like Florida grades schools, right?)

Simply amazing. What a valuable service that is. I posted Ask a Librarian to my Delicioius. I'll definitely be heading back with more questions.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What Story Are You Living?

I just finished an amazing book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. Miller takes the elements of story--exposition, conflict, resolution and the like--and applies these to his life and his walk with God. The English teacher in me loves the concept, but my spirit loves the story.

In the story you meet Bob Goff. an amazing real-life person who transformed what his children deemed the most boring of all holidays, New Year's Day, into a family/community parade and celebration. The parade has continued for ten years. That is the most whimsical of stories about Goff, others are awe-inspiring. Like the time he had his children write world leaders and invite them to spend the night and be interviewed about their hopes for the world. Amazing stuff these stories.

Miller's essential questions revolve around the kind of story do you want to live and how you go about connecting with life and God in order to live it. As he says, "Great stories go to those who don't give in to fear" (108).

I've been wanting to change my family story for some time now. Act more. Adventure more and serve more. I've always wanted to bike across Florida--or walk even, but biking seems like an easier first step (a practice story as Miller might say). Rick and Collin and I have talked about the trip, how many days it might take. We've talked about causes we'd be interested in raising money for with such a trip, but we haven't gone beyond the dreamy dinner table plans. Miller's story seems to say "get out there--get going--create the story you want to live." I'm listening. It's a push in the right direction.

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's Broken

I remember when roller blades came out. I wanted a pair badly. I think I even asked for them from "Santa"--I was in college, so I didn't, necessarily, believe in the sliding down the chimney Santa, but I will always believe in the spirit of Santa. At the time, Mom said, "no way, you'll break your arm! Or worse!" So I convinced a friend to get me a pair and take me to a parking garage to try them out. He did. I think that was the first time I flew--four floors, ramps I filled with figure eights. Boy did I love those skates.

I still skate. Collin and I indulge in the Saturday morning under-12 matinee skate once or twice a month. Good exercise, good music, we leave after our 2 hour session full of happy-person endorphins. I think those endorphins are what helped me drive to not one but two emergency clinics this weekend.

I fell. Last song of the session and I fell. As I made the turn for the "slow backwards skate," Collin came around me. We ran into each other. Landed hard. Luckily he was fine. I, however, knew when I hit the rink that it was broken. I might have said one semi-silent "damn" as I rested the arm on my head and made my way off the rink. The wrist definitely wasn't shaped right when I got up. I told Collin to find his friend and take off his skates while I went to the concession stand for ice. Broken. I knew it.

Both bones in my wrist are healing and according to the Orthopedic Surgeon well-aligned (read no surgery!). I'm a one-handed typist, one-handed artist... pretty much one handed for the next 6-8 weeks. I'm thankful it wasn't worse. Is there a limitation on Mom's predictions?