Sunday, August 31, 2008

Election Questions

You can't turn to the news, into a Twitter Conversation, onto a new webpage without seeing news or an ad about Obama or McCain. Nothing I'm hearing has swayed me to vote for either one - YET. I've heard a lot of great promises, but no actual plans yet.
Here are my questions:
  • We are paying for the health care for a lot of US Citizens and illegal immigrants. I do agree that everyone should have the right to the health care, but that's not what bothers me. What bothers me is the number of people who have jobs and cannot get health insurance. They still rely on the free health clinics and medical programs. So Obama and McCain - what are your REAL plans for health care, and more importantly - HOW DO YOU PLAN TO PAY FOR IT?
    • As as side note, someone on TV said that we needed to at least provide the same health coverage for Americans as the politicians get. That's a sore subject with me. They get FREE - no premium- health coverage in the state of Florida and teachers are having to pay a premium. And sometimes that premium is MORE than they can afford. I have a friend who has his children on the state plan because his WORK insurance is not affordable. HELLO????
  • We're in the middle of an economic crisis. Part of it is because of the gas prices and part is because of the UN-affordable housing. For instance, when I moved to Florida I found a great small lot with a dilapidated mobile home for just over $100,000, a home built in the late 1980s that needed about $50,000 or more worth of work for $175,000 and a brand new home that was up to code for just over $200,000. On my single paycheck, the mobile home was the most affordable, but it was not realistic or safe. When you live paycheck to paycheck to pay your mortgage, you can't save for retirement and you can't put back into the economy. No splurge shopping or "extras". Those help spur the economy. If no one is shopping, then those stores can't keep the jobs, they close down, jobs are lost, and houses go into foreclosure, eventually decline. I've seen it happening around me. We have 300 lots built in my community, 18 are in foreclosure, some are for sale and are not selling, others are on a "short sale" program and not selling, and then the others are struggling to keep things going in the depressing state our community is in. So Obama and McCain - what are you going to do REALISTICALLY for those who bought to high due to the market availability in their time of need (and not lower interest rates because I only know ONE person who was able to get the lower interest rate and not the other plan to be starting in October because it is also not aimed at the AVERAGE American.)? And what are your plans to make sure that the developers, builders, and mortgage companies DO NOT put the economy in such a state again? And how do you plan to carry it out?
  • What are your plans for education? How do you plan to support those plans? Remember, these are the future Presidents of the United States and you'll depend on them for plans on keeping you healthy and safe in all measures. Will it be more state testing and unfunded mandates? Is that realistic? How are you going to lower the stress for teachers today so they can TEACH and do more than prepare our students for state tests but for the real world? (So maybe Palin's PTO presidency will help with insight on what American Education is going through today? Just a thought.)
  • What are your plans for Iraq? Withdrawl? Stay? How will your plans ensure that America is not left vulnerable or seen as weak and encouraging another attack on our soil?
Abortion rights are actually not a concern of mine. I know, that's a step backwards for women according to some. I am not concerned with who is having affairs, who has the most houses, who raises the most money, or anything else that might be frivolous. I want to know who is going to take care of America first, take care of our real problems.

I got off track of the media frenzy though. I have noticed that while McCain has encouraged the funds to start preparing for the storms, that wasn't as media frenzied as Obama asking supporters to stop donating to him and donating to the Hurricane Relief Funds.
Hey both of you - Education budgets have been hit so hard this year- why didn't you both do a fundraiser for PUBLIC education and help them out? Why wait until you had a photo op, chance to get your name in the papers to do something "good"? I'm still amazed at how much each campaign needs to win their election. American

Playing the Political Lessons

I was on the phone the other day with my aunt after Palin was announced as McCain's running mate and she expressed how excited and interested my cousin is with this election. He won't be able to vote this time around, but he's starting to realize the changes that can come about in America with this election.
Or can the changes take place?
In a discussion today the line Obama and his groupies have been using came up, "Who wants more of the same? We've had Bush for the past 8 years. It's time for new blood." My mother, a Republican who may or may not always vote Republican, said, "Well then we better hope that we get new blood in Congress, because it's not only Bush that created this mess."
And she's partly right. We have a system of check and balances. No office has complete control. If the President wants to pass a bill, he needs to have support of Congress. If Congress wants to pass a bill, they need support of the President. They can vote against his proposals, and he can veto theirs.
The other thing topic that got brought up was if there ever was a President and Vice President in office that were NOT of the same party. Yes, there was. In the original set up the person who received the second highest vote became Vice-President. This became a problem when Federalist John Adams won the Presidency and Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson became Vice-President. Imagine their conflicts over foreign affairs and state rights. Can you imagine what it would be like if we had the same set up in today's election? We could have an Obama/McCain or McCain/Obama or McCain/Clinton or Clinton/Obama or Donald Duck/Mickey Mouse election.
I would vote for Donald. :-)
I bring this up because the rest of the discussion was over what is the Vice-President's Role other than to be on the card and then to take the President's place if anything should happen to him. I found it interesting that the only thing that they could say was "to go deer hunting and hope not to shoot a friend" and some other off handed remarks.
So right now I'm trying to write lesson plans and I decided I'd focus on government. It's obvious that we can all use a refresher on the election process, the responsibilities of each branch, and the responsibilities of the President and the Vice President.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Putting It All Together and STACKS

It's no secret that some of my favorite products include netTrekker d.i., Tech4Learning's entire product line, and Scholastic. I've also been enjoying Zoho lately as well. I found a way to make them work together!

Recently I was conducting a training on netTrekker d.i. and was sharing with the media specialists how to save the preferred links and the directions for the project in the My Portfolio. (For more information on this, contact netTrekker d.i. for professional development. They have a fantastic Integration Class. I'm not just saying it because I teach it, it really is good.) I also showed the teachers how to create a rubric using the free tools courtesy of Tech4Learning's Myt4l. We needed somewhere to post the rubric, so we uploaded it into Zoho's Spreadsheet and made the spreadsheet public. I then posted the URL for that spreadsheet into netTrekker d.i.'s My Portfolio, right into the folder for that particular project.

Then I overheard that it would be great if the media specialists could add a list of the preferred books for the unit. One said they could use the Template tool and put all the books on a list. I took that opportunity to showcase the Scholastic Book Wizard. I created a list of books about Abraham Lincoln and added the booklist to the project folder I created in netTrekker d.i.

Here's an example of a completed booklist. Joey has been asking me a lot about Superheroes lately and he only seems to be ale to concentrate or think about Batman, Superman, Spiderman, and the others like them. So we went on the Wizard and found other books about heroes, but necessarily with those that are well known. These are books that he'd like to read or has read at school.

And while I was on the Scholastic website, I found this great new social tool for students. It's called STACKS. It's still in Beta Testing, but there's going to be a lot of neat features to help students connect with other students who share their love of reading certain books. Check it out - there's some great stuff already there. My niece is playing with the links now.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Brain Freeze, Brain Fart, No Brainer

First I want to finish up my vent since last post. I agree with Marsha that it is rude of people not to move. I do it all the time and don't see the big deal. Right now I'm stuck at the Fort Lauderdale Airport. Delayed due to weather. I'm sitting on the floor. Why am I sitting on the floor? Because this guy had a seat saved for his food and another for his bag. He ignored me when I asked if the bag seat was his and if I could sit there. But guess what? This other guy all decked out in fashion statement attire and two gold hoops came over and he moved ALL of his stuff for him. I'd have moved for him to, but that's because I'm nice. I guess the tassels did it it.

So on to Brain Freeze, Brain Fart and the No Brainer. I do nothing but read while I'm on a trip. I can't see purchasing an electronic reader because you can't use them during take off. And I love the feel of a book in hand. I have read 4 books this week alone. I need to find a cheaper habit, so I decided to try my hand at writing.
I tried to get back into the educational book but I couldn't. I'm not a technical writer. I keep getting things sent back to me from the group I work with because it's not crisp enough for training. I agree. So I abandoned that book.
But I have this great series idea and I'd love to actually flesh it out. The main character's name is Chrystal "Chrys" Clear. She's a teacher and well, I don't want to give away the plot. And the plot's okay. I've got that in my mind. I'm just having a problem with the start. I can't get happy about anything I'm writing. It's not right. Maybe I'm being to critical. My brain freezes during the scenes where characters are talking. I who love to talk don't know how to write a scene with people sharing a conversation.
Then I have a brain fart and forget where in the world I am in the story. I want to jump ahead and write about the dead body. Yeah, okay, so there's a dead body -maybe in the book. But I need to get to the dead body. I can't just jump into a dead body can I? That doesn't sound exactly right does it?
So as I sit in the airport with the brain freeze and brain fart, I finally have a no brainer thought. WHY am I trying to write blind? Mrs. Hunter is right. I need to flesh out my stories first. I need to create their map and have my journey planned. My former high school English teacher told me if I had Inspiration back in high school I would have been a better writer. Why am I not using it right now? Well duh!
My battery is dying, but I can start with pen and paper. Tonight, if I can't sleep, I'll transfer to Inspiration.
And in case Janet Evonich is reading this - why don't you run a contest where you'll pick an apprentice to help write their first book. Don't accept any other entries but mine. :-)
And maybe one day frequent flyers will buy my book to help them get through the flight and wait in the airports. One can dream huh?
Time to get inspired!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Travel Venting

I have been writing a lot of posts lately as I'm flying and traveling to trainings, but only in my head. But right now, I really need to vent.

I use to be the perfect traveler. I checked my bag and only had my laptop bag with me. Then I decided to be one who took my bag on the plane with me. I have a 21 inch bag that fits the size wise dimensions, but it was really pushing it. Even Delta made me check it once - and it was not over flowing or expanded. As a matter of fact, it had plenty of room. So for my birthday last year my parents bought me a nice 17 inch bag. Perfect.

However, I'm getting really frustrated when I see people who get away with the breaking the baggage rules.

To the lady today who had a bag that would not fit in wheels first and had to take up more than 1/2 of the overhead compartment, plus had not one BUT TWO purses (one was a laptop bag she says) that were so big they took up the rest of the compartment - the guy who had to check his ONE bag thanks you.

To the man who had a suit bag, a suitcase, and a laptop bag - decide which one you want to check. The lady who was last on the plane would have appreciated it.

To the team that had each a suitcase and a laptop bag, and the lady had a huge purse and the guy was carrying a long tube - read the rules. Then you wouldn't have to figure out where to put everything.

And flights can leave on time.

Yeah, frustrated.

Last year I had to check my ONLY bag that had my MacBook Pro, my Garmin, my cell phone, my camera, my iPod, and my PURSE. The flight attendant made it sound like she was putting it up front in First Class. See, I was the last person to board because of my zone, had to sit behind first class and there was no more room for my ONE bag. There were plenty of bags that did not fit the size wise dimensions, but I still had to check my ONE bag. During the flight I asked the flight attendant if there was a ticket for my bag. She looked at me funny and said no. At the end of the flight I asked her if my bag was going to be brought up with the strollers. She said, "no, I checked it all the way through. You'll need to go to baggage claim." SHE SENT MY LAPTOP TO BAGGAGE CLAIM! I raced there to make sure no one grabbed it first, only to find out my phone was missing. Thank goodness only the phone. It fell out of the velcro pouch. And the airlines are not responsible for technology YOU CHECK!

Okay, starting to feel better.

But seriously people, please stop bringing bags on the planes that are not size wise or that are TOO heavy for you to lift. Ladies, your purse is a personal item. You have to choose - your suitcase, purse or laptop. Or put your purse in your laptop bag like I do. Yeah, I carry a small purse - but I've recently bought a bigger one. And it still fits! And to the people at the gate - start cracking down on the people who carry on too many bags or oversized bags. Start charging if needed. Dang, you charge for everything else.

Deep breathe. Sorry I vented. Had to get it out. Not like anyone really reads my blog anyway. :)