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29 September 2011

Ireland or bust!

In 24 short hours, I'll be leaving on a jet plane. Blogging may consist of only pictures for the next week. There are worse things though, right?

25 September 2011

Yeah for productivity!

I've had an AMAZINGLY productive weekend. I think the pressure from my pending trip to Ireland has got me kicked into high gear. I have a million and one things to accomplish by Friday, and I can't make excuses. Mid-terms are coming up, packing and preparations need to be done, sub plans need to be written ... there's a lot to do. Thankfully, the pressure has resulted in productivity!

Things I've accomplished:
- Graded all of my students' vocabulary assignments
- Graded all of my students' group projects
- Entered all of said grades into the grade system
- Organized the chaos that is my back porch
- Organized the chaos that is my office
- Written 9 of 12 mid-term comments for my advisory group
- Written my generic mid-term comments for Language Arts and my advisory

Things I've yet to do:
- Write sub plans for a FULL WEEK of lessons.
- Collect and grade this week's vocabulary assignments (this may happen on the plane to Dublin.)
- Get my travellers' cheques
- Pick up my Euros for my trip
- Pack!
- I'm sure there's more. I just can't think of it all right now. My brain is fried .

24 September 2011

I'm a quitter

I quit cold turkey. I just made the decision that I was done, and I never looked back. I decided that I had more important things to do, and I was tired of being a slave.

That's right, folks. I'm officially off the Facebook. ;-)

I've been toying with the idea of quitting for a while, and the newest changes to the platform gave me the impetus I was looking for to actually finally do it. People give me funny looks when I tell them I have deactivated my account, but I have a few different reasons for my seemingly crazy actions.

First, Facebook is time suck. I don't want to even think about the hours I have spent there over the past five years or so. It's shameful. And embarrassing. It's too easy to hang out on the newsfeed, waiting for something interesting to happen. There are interesting things happening in real life!! Why am I waiting for them to happen in a digital space?

Second, I looked back over my friends list, and I realized that I only genuinely care about what about what 5% of those people are doing on a daily basis. And, of that 5%, I see or talk to at least half on a fairly regular basis. The people I truly care about, I stay connected with. We text, we talk, we hang out, we email, we read each others' blogs ... we stay connected in meaningful and authentic ways. The other 95%, I don't really care all that much about. I'm not interested in their scores in internet games or their horrible bosses or all the other mundane things that we share. In the same vein, they probably don't care about my mundane updates either. I also find myself subconsciously comparing my life to theirs -- Am I more successful? Less successful? More happy? Less happy? -- when, in all reality, it doesn't matter and it's not healthy. I have a happy, successful life that is amazingly fulfilling. But, because my nature is to always compare myself to others, that's what happens to me on Facebook. It's not healthy, and it only adds unneeded anxiety to my life.

Third, I've been uncomfortable with Facebook's privacy "issues" for a long time. I'm uncomfortable with the things they share about people, and I think it is unnecessary that a person should have to completely "lock down" their account in order to protect themselves from the platform more than the people on it.

I quit on Thursday night, and I haven't looked back. I used to check Facebook many times a day ... more than I'd like to admit. It would be the first website I visited in the morning and the last thing I checked at night. When I woke up on Friday morning and remembered that I had turned off my account, I didn't even feel the desire to check it. At no point on Friday did I feel a void because I hadn't been updated on everyone's lives. I also think I've been much more productive in the past two days without worrying about what's happening on Facebook.

Of course, I do miss staying connected with people that I care about but are far away. But I think -- hope? -- that this will help me to be better about reaching out to those people. Time will tell.

I'm happy with the change. I hope it'll make me a better person. Even if it's in a minor way. Life is all about improving yourself and being the best person you can be, right?

Wow. I totally sound like an Army ad ...

16 September 2011

30-Day Challenge - September - Day 16


The real theme for today was long-exposure, but I'm just learning how to do that.
I'll post my long-exposure shot on the 18th.

13 September 2011

30-Day Challenge - September - Day 13

13 things

This pic is supposed to be of me with 13 things.
Since I don't like my picture taken, it is 13 things with one extra.
I have a bunch of empty wine bottles laying around for a project.
I figured they'd work nicely. 

11 September 2011

30-Day Challenge - September - Day 11

Something blue

A decade is a long time

A decade is a long time.

For many, it's a generation.

For my current students, it's a lifetime.

For me, it's a career.

For those who lost their loved ones in the 9-11 attacks, it is 3,650 days filled with painful memories and mourning.

But it's also a very short time.

It passes in the blink of an eye, leaving a changed world in its path.

We all remember where we were and what we were doing on this day ten years ago. I was just beginning my teaching career in a small middle school in Marathon, NY. I learned of the events during my 2nd period class from am 8th grade student. This year, ten years later, my students weren't even a year old when it happened. They have only heard about the events through TV and family stories; they have no working memory of that beautiful blue sky September morning when America was savagely attacked on her own native soil. We were all going about our daily business -- teaching, learning, working, driving -- until we became transfixed on our TVs as we watched the horror unfold before our eyes.

Unfortunately, that horror continued to unfold over and over and over again. The videos and photos seemed to play in a loop that lasted for days. Eventually that loop slowed and only reappeared on significant anniversaries and events. For those who witnessed the events first-hand or through film, the images are burned forever into our memories. There is no erasing those images from our brains. And, because of this, there is no need to continually show the tragic and heartbreaking images from those days.

As this solemn anniversary approached, I made a conscious decision to NOT watch any 9-11 programming today. The use of such devastating footage serves two purposes: to reopen the scars of those still here and to keep all of us riled up and angry about what happened. It's impossible to heal and move forward when the focus is the horror of the events.

Healing doesn't mean forgetting. Remembering is essential so that we can grow and learn and and honor those who are innocent victims and unsung heroes who were caught in a political crossfire. But remembering doesn't require graphic imagery. It's time to move forward. The world is a different place now than it was 10 years ago. And it's not necessarily a better place or a safer place. An entire generation of young people have only ever known a world in which a war on terror is being fought. Osama bin Laden has always been Enemy #1. Political campaigns have always included questions of just how American each candidate is. Airports have always been invasively "secure," increasingly more and more over the years. And it's always been acceptable to hate, especially if those you hate are of Arabic heritage. Is this what we want for our children? Is this the only world we want them to know?

Those we loved and lost will never be forgotten. But we dishonor their memory by using their tragic fate to fuel hatred and beget violence. My prayers and thoughts go out to each and every person affected by these events -- no matter how directly or indirectly -- and I pray that we, as a nation, learn to move forward and create a world in which our children know peace, love, and safety without the use of guns and fear.

10 September 2011

My very first photography show!

I have my very first photography show starting on Monday, and I spent this morning hanging all of my images and getting it all ready. I'm nervous about the whole thing given that I haven't really had my work out in any public space before. I'm seriously second-guessing myself and the quality of my work, but it's too late now. I've made a commitment and it's all up and ready. Now I just need to wait and see what people have to say about it. 

My "signage"

The outer back wall

The inner back wall

The far wall

The shelving section

My little "animals" grouping

30-Day Challenge - September - Day 10

Childhood memory

Reading, reading, reading

01 September 2011

30-Day Challenge - September - Day 1

Today is supposed to be a self portrait. Ummm ... I hate having my picture taken in any capacity. So, today is a buy.


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