Today nothing went as planned, well most things anyway. I had planned to sharpen my chain saw and start cutting firewood after finishing my run and then when I got tired, puttering around the garage with a couple of small projects that I wanted to get crossed off the honey-doo list.
While I was on the way back from my morning run (I run and time the first 2.0 miles of my 3.0 mile course and walk/run the last mile untimed), I decided to stop and see my neighbor, he had offered to let me pick raspberries from his bed and this week raspberries are at their prime around here. He said no problem.
While I was talking with him, his boy came over and asked if I still wanted the manure, that we had talked about bringing over to my place, last weekend. I said sure and he brought three – 6 foot bucket fulls over to our place and said whenever we wanted or need more to just let him know.
These are the reasons for all that wonderful manure. Never thought that I would say those words, I haven’t liked manure of any kind, since I cleaned cow and chicken barns as a teenager. Cleaning 3-4 feet of chicken shit out of a barn in July, then swamping out the cow barn with 60 head of milkers, just was not a pleasant memory, so I have avoided using manure at the house until this year. This year, things are changing (less income) and the manure is needed for the growing things around the yard. So there it sits in the front yard to look at as a reminder to use it.
Yes I will be getting more.
For the next four hours I was picking raspberries and filled up 2 ½ big gulp cups. I am not a fan of picking raspberries (they start with rasp for a reason), but I do love how they taste and things that Mary does with them – muffins, pies, cordials, jams, or jelly. So I endured the thorns, multiple species of spiders and the occasional snake slithering across my foot, to pick the “rasp” berries. Spiders don’t bother me, but I am not fond of snakes, but up here they are harmless, nothing poisonous – they seem to just appear suddenly and make me jump. My arms are a little battle-worn, but not as bad as they will be during blackberry season – those suckers are nasty.
It was well worth the effort, Mary has already made 4 jars of raspberry freezer jam – my favorite with eggs, (I know I am weird, but at least I know it). Tomorrow she has plans for the rest and then Friday or Saturday, I get to do it all over again.
I took over some of our rhubarb cordial over and Mary has plans to make up some raspberry jelly and cordial for the patch owners and some muffins for the son (I have a feeling that one of the muffins might not make it past the door – especially if I can get it fresh out of the oven).
My knee didn’t really like the bending, twisting, up, down and all the contortions that I went through to get at some of those raspberries, so I sat down in my recliner for a about an hour, with about half of that icing my knee. No I didn’t fall asleep and take a nap (yes I came close, but Mary started talking to me and I stopped nodding off), so my opportunity for a nap didn’t bear fruit. 😉
After resting for a bit, I went ahead and mowed the lawn with my push mower (see the knee is getting better, just need to rest it more often than I would like), it is the off-week. Then it started sprinkling which makes using a push mower a real pain in the butt, but it wasn’t raining hard enough to have an excuse to stop. I finished up the lawn and while it doesn’t look as good as the power mower with a bag doing it, I think that it looks just fine.
Memo to self get bagger for push mower – this goes to Evernote.
I had planned for a totally different kind of day one that involved cutting down trees and splitting wood, but when things are ready to be harvested and opportunities are available for free shit, you just have to be flexible and go with the flow. This is what I like best about this semi-retirement gig of mine so far – I am not bound by a schedule and if I want to change what I had planned, I just do it to meet the needs of the moment. Next year I know that I am going to start cutting firewood as soon as the ground firms up in the spring – maybe a little before, so I am not cutting and splitting it in July/August.
By the way, I am officially part of the red neck crowd now, four hours of standing in the sun turned my neck a nice shade of red. It sometimes feels that to move forward you have to go backwards – it seems as though I am doing many things now that I thought I would never be doing again.
Progress is funny isn’t it.
Finally, I believe that I have found a program that meets my needs quite nicely. Picasa might be re-branded fairly soon as Google Photo as part of their Google + initiative – but there has not been any official word from Google yet. Either way I have been using Picasa exclusively since I re-imaged my MacBook Pro laptop back on June 25th, no I didn’t re-install iPhoto 11 and haven’t missed it a bit. Picasa is working quite well for me.
Company Name: Google Inc.
Type: Web Application and Desktop software
Company Product Description
Below are screenshots of Picasa
Picasa Desktop version
Picasa Web Application
How much does Picasa cost? It is a free download and up to 1 GB is free online storage (there are rumors that this may change as Google + becomes open. I opted for the additional 20 GB online storage.
Is this the first time reviewing this product?I have never reviewed Picasa in depth on my blog, I have mentioned it a couple of times.
Is Picasa easy to use?For the most part, yes. There are some things that make me scratch my head, but most of what you do in the desktop version is pretty intuitive and I have gotten used to some of those head scratchers and work around them.
What I like
That you can easily upload photos to the Picasa web application.
You can share your photo albums with others if you want to.
I really like that there is a cloud based application, that I can use to back up your photos in a place where they are not likely to be lost, if your laptop crashes, burns, breaks and all those other things that can happen to a hard drive without warning. I have a feeling that Google is a lot better about backing things up than I am. Having these photos stored in the cloud also means that I can access my Picasa web application from any computer, device or location, where I have web access.
I like that Picasa integrates easily with Picnik, so that if I need to do a little more editing than the stock editor i.e. resizing or some special effects, it is available. Right now, it is more of a link to a separate web application versus a integrated piece of the tool.
That Picasa images can quickly be added to your blog post by using the Insert Image tool.
What I don’t like:
Sometimes pasting the Picasa URL into a non-Google tools doesn’t work.
When updating my blogger theme (some of the custom images, like the RSS feed button image), when I attempt to host them on Picasa – the URL links do not work, which caused me to use an alternative photo web host account to customize the images in my blog theme.
That re-organizing your Albums on Picasa web is time consuming and a pain in the butt. I just don’t bother trying to do any re-organizing my photos online with Picasa.
The reality is that
FCC Disclaimer: I have not received any compensation for writing this review of Google’s Picasa, they are simply my thoughts on a product that I use.
I have been going through my old blog posts to create a favorite list in the Navigation bar for my new theme. While going through them I re-read my “ With All Due Respect” from January 24, 2010 and believe that I what I wrote then is still pertinent.
As part of my leaving the teaching profession for semi-retirement, I thought it was a good time to update and re-publish this post.
With all due respect to:
- the President of the United States and his staff
- the Congress and their staffs
- the State Governors and their staffs (Maine for me)
- the State Boards of Education (Maine for me)
- the Teacher preparatory programs at the University/College levels
- the Educational Consultants
- the Corporations who sell educational products
- and everyone else who thinks that they have latest answer to the problems in our classrooms
and start listening to educators, who are currently in the classroom.
What do you really know about what really happens in the public, charter or private classrooms when you are not there?
NOT AS MUCH AS YOU THINK!
When was the last time most of the above people were actually in public school or any classrooms for more than a few minutes or hours and at best a day or two?
Then usually it was in a carefully selected and “prepared” classroom or school. Most of these visits are what I classify as dog and pony shows and/or photo ops, especially when the “bigwigs” are involved. They get to see everyone on their best behavior, with everything all cleaned up.
These people don’t get to see what is really going on in that school or classroom that they spend a few minutes or an hour in – it is a totally artificial atmosphere, where everyone is on pins and needles and the “students” that are likely to be an issue, have it suggested to them or their parents the day before, that they might want to stay home that day or are taken to a different place during those V.I.P. visits. Woe be the teacher or school administrator that doesn’t have a neat as a pin classroom or “allows” misbehaving students during this visit – it will be “noted”.
What would a staffing analysis reveal on how long it has been since:
- Political staffers who’s job is Education policy;
- Department of Education personnel at the Federal and State levels;
- University/College professors and all the others who provide input to K-12 education policy;
- Corporate Advisors
actually taught in the K-12 classroom.
I believe that that data (we in a data driven educational model – right?) would be very enlightening to many of us who actually do care about education and give it more than lip service. This information might just show how out of touch many of those policy advisors are with what the real impact that their policies and proposals are having in the K-12 classrooms of today.
However, if you do not have recent experience in the classroom, how do you know what you are proposing is the correct or right solution for all classrooms or students in today’s world?
Quite simply you don’t.
They have become part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Your solutions are meant to satisfy the “big” picture, they are a macro view of education, from a centralized government perspective, where data and tracking have become more important than the individual students that they are supposed to represent. Trends and data points are different than individuals.
These educational policies may have sounded good initially, had great intentions, but are they working? Have they actually made a difference in the students education? Are our students better prepared for their lives after they leave high school.
I don’t believe so and I haven’t seen that any of these standards or assessment reforms have made much of a difference in what our students actually learn or don’t learn.
They have simply taken funds away from the classroom or schools and put them in the hands of others, in the guise of accountability and making education “better”. Unfortunately, none of these reforms have made education any better at the classroom level than it was 20 years ago, it simply provides data to “prove” how things aren’t improving. Very ironic isn’t it?
Instead of admitting that these policies have not and are not working, it has become much easier to blame teaching staffs and local administrators as being incompetent or worse – uncaring. After all the problem couldn’t be bad laws, rules, and regulations could it? It couldn’t be that those who wrote or championed these “education reforms” for whatever the reason, would have to have to admit that their ideas didn’t work and should be changed.
That is very difficult for most people to do, after all “it should have worked, because I believed that it should have worked”. “They” just didn’t implement or follow through correctly or they are incompetent, because my plan was supposed to work.
I am a bit cynical when it comes to public hearings, which are artificial, are mostly for show and are a joke when it comes to changing policy – they are held to make those who disagree believe that their voice has been heard, by changing some minor facets of a piece of legislation, while the major parts of a bill seem to just keep flowing along. Also for some strange reason teachers usually can’t attend them most of the time, because they are scheduled for when schools are in session and we are teaching our students. Less discourse or disagreement in the record that way I guess.
But under local control the school boards and administrators are closer to schools, the classrooms, often the individual student and know the local educational needs better than some bureaucrat in Washington or a state capitol.
With local control there is at least the opportunity for more pockets of excellence, instead of an overall mediocrity/malaise that we appear to be heading towards in our public schools.
Blogger Template Style
Author: Lasantha Bandara
URL 1: http://www.premiumbloggertemplates.com/
URL 2: http://www.bloggertipandtrick.net/
Date: February 2011
The stock theme
It is a magazine style for the main landing page which is what I have been looking for. Rival had the right color scheme and presented a clean and crisp appearance that I liked immediately.
However, getting this theme setup to be useable, was quite intimidating initially. There is a lot of work to be done inside of the code and I don’t really know a whole lot about HTML. What I usually accomplish inside the code is completed by trial and error and being willing to experiment, which usually equals breaking something (i.e. making sure that I have a good backup saved for when I mess something up – which is quite often).
Like many other themes that have this appearance the Rival template is not your typical upload, change/add/move a widget or two, tweak a few colors and then start using it theme. There is quite a bit of work to do before Rival meets your needs after you upload it:
Getting the header so it looked right, I still am not completely happy with the image, but it is close enough for the time being. This took a lot longer than it should have, but is a lot closer to what I want, than it was.
Setting up the Navigation bar, figuring where in the template to add the links and then change things around to meet my needs. I still have a few more things to clean up on this section, but they are very minor.
The slider – which I have since deleted. Originally this took quite a while to properly set this up, get the photos to work correctly and the links in the right places and when I decided to delete the slider. it took a little longer than I expected and quite a bit of experimentation to ensure that I deleted the correct code. I probably didn’t get everything out that I should have, but got it so it looks right on the page.
My decision to get rid of the slider was based on a couple of things: it took too much space above the fold, I found it distracting and it took away from the clean appearance that I was looking for.
Subscription Widget – I changed the RSS image and had to figure which photo service to use which worked correctly when Picassa and Flikr both didn’t work the way I expected. I ended up using Photobucket to link my images to this theme. Changing the wording and links was pretty easy.
Adding the Google +1 button from My Blogger Tricks, wasn’t hard (when I followed the directions correctly), but getting it to look just right and where I wanted it took some experimentation.
How It Looks Now
After all of the tweaking this is what One Foot In Reality’s landing page looks like now.
The reality is that
I am very happy with the results, I learned a lot and found out that the changes that I thought were intimidating at the start were not that difficult once I started doing the work, just time consuming and that you have to be very precise about where/how you put the changes. This has been the most work that I have invested in modifying any blog theme since I started blogging and gives me a better understanding of why people pay to have someone else do it. With the amount of time I have invested in this theme I have a feeling that it will stay on my blog for a longer period than themes usually do with me.
While my theme is not minimalistic I think it is clean, loads fairly quickly and looks the way I want it to. I am also using One Foot In Reality’s landing page as my primary webpage, so my blog is doing double duty. This theme also reflects the direction that I appear to be going with my blog.
Now to go back in and see how much of the extra code I can get rid of as a result of deleting the slider – this should be interesting. 🙂
What do you think?