ENTRY 0020, June 16, 2008

Okay, Okay, I kinda got out of the whole blogging thing.  I was doing my illustrated journal instead.  I'm still doing that, but I have been goaded into starting this up again.
To remind you, these are pages from my journal:

Journal entry for january 17

And this:

february 23
This is what I have been doing instead of blogging.  It's much more of a personal project, so don't hold you breath waiting for me to post more.  It's for me at this point.

So, what has been going on?  Not as much as you would think in some areas and more than you would hope in others.  We have not been back to Europe since our last excursion over Christmas, 2006.  We have had lots of stuff to do, some of our vacation times did not match up, and overall, we were just really, really busy.  We did manage to travel to South Bend, Indiana to attend a Notre Dame Football Game.  This took place in October of 2007.  Everything about the trip was perfect, except for the final score of the game. 

We plan on actually updating our travel page with some of the photos, so I will tease you with just three.
The dome
The Dome

Touchdown Jesus
Touchdown Jesus

The Game
The Game

The recession that is/isn't there has hit our neighborhood.  When we moved in, our neighbors to the north were Tom and Martha.  They were wonderful people, and had occupied the house since about 1960.  Martha died about 7 or 8 years ago, and Tom lived in the house alone.  He had regular visits from a nurse and his family, so he was able to maintain without too much trouble.  Despite the fact he was almost blind he managed to keep his yard and fruit trees looking nice. I talked with him about once a week, when he was puttering around his yard. Well, Tom died about a year and a half ago.  His son inherited the house and decided to fix it up before selling it.  He took his time, never quite finished the upgrades and eventually managed to sell it to... someone.  We never saw the new owners, whoever they were.  The house sat empty, all utilities turned off, so we couldn't even water the lawn.  Now where Tom's beautiful lawn used to be is a bunch of dead grass and weeds.  I manage to get our hose over the wall to keep his fruit trees from dying.  He really liked them, took really good care of them and they do produce a nice variety of fruit.

About three months ago, I noticed some official-looking paper hanging from the door.  Sure enough, it was a siezure for nonpayment of the mortgage and intent to sell at auction.  The auction was scheduled for May 1.  I don't know what happened at this auction, but the house is still forlorn and empty...  The housing crisis has taken its toll.

At the same time, gas prices are doing some amazing and frightening things.  Well, just one thing, going up.  At the bottom of my last blog, written a year and a half ago, I mention that gas prices had spiked to nearly $3.00 per gallon and were down to about $2.65.  Today, that same gas station was selling gas for $4.54/gal.  That works out to just a bit under ten cents a month increase... 

My school year is over.  I have sent all the kids home.  This year I did something a bit different.  Not in my class, but in the hallways.  I have found that the science posters that are available are not really useful for me.  They don't cover the topics I'd like to show the kids.  Next, they are pretty small.  I'd like something bigger.  Third, I wanted to use the blank spaces in the hallway as display space to help educate the students.
How did I do this?  First, I downloaded a copy of a program called "The Rasterbator" from the sect of Homokaasu .  Using this program, you can take any image and rasterize it.  That means you convert it into dots of varying sizes and colors.  Then you can adjust the size of the image to be anything from one page to hundreds of sheets that you can join together to make a billboard.  Using this program I made posters to fit what I wanted to teach, added some expository text and I had a mini-museum right outside my classroom. 

I started doing this last year, but only in my classroom.  I had a few posters that were related to what we were learing at the moment, and a few in "Mr. Owen's corner", the space of the room I devote to non-topic-related pictures and posters.

mr. owen's corner




Then I expanded to the hallway. First, just one:
Apollo on the moon

Then others...
Jaxa probe

LHC text

Then I expanded into the other hallway...
The very large




big star

really big stars
This series was particularly popular with the students.  There were lots of 'whoas' when they read them.

The series on Mars was equally popular.
mars 01

mars 02

sciaparelli's idea

Well's idea



These were popular with almost everybody in the school.  Even the district superintendant complimented them when she walked through the school near the end of the year.
When people ask me why I did this, I merely explain that I am tired of beige walls...

What else?  Well, we have really been working on our crafting.  We converted our patio into a craft room.

craft room

craft room - another angle

third angle

We do a lot of crafting, and this room lets us really go for it. 
I even built an airbrush station so I can paint my kits without killing my valuable alveoli with aerosoled solvents.

Airbrush station

another vew

Anyway, what's new? (Or, more precisely, what has happened since I last updated this blog,  a year and a half ago?)

-Bush is still a lying moron. 

- John McCain has the Republican nomination.  So if he wins, it will sorta be like Bush gets a third term.

-Barack Obama has the Democratic nomination.  A real chance at change...

-We still have two working rovers on Mars. They have exceeded their expected lifespans by about 1000%. That is still Too Cool For Words.

- The shuttle has made a few more trips to the ISS, installing new labs and modules.  It is actually ready for a crew of 6 or so!  I hope that they keep the toilet operating...

- We hit 4,000 dead American soldiers in Iraq.  This is in addition to the 80,000+ iraqis killed by direct military action. (For details see here.)

- ComicCon was okay.  They changed a bunch of rules that made it more difficult to actually get into the panels we want to attend.   We met a bunch of folks we wanted to meet (Like Mike Nelson of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" fame (now doing "Rifftrax".)  and Nick Frost and Edgar Wright (co-star and director of "Shaun of the Dead" respectively.)  They were signing a limited number of autographs, and we managed to get them all!)  Not sure if we will go this year.  If we do, we'll only go for a day, instead of the whole time like last year.  It was disappointing not getting into most of the panels we wanted.

Lots of other stuff happened, but that is enough for now.

Well, I gotta run.

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