Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Podstock- Fat city for all the 18 karat radioactive cats

What's the tale, nightengale?
I'm so excited (or in 50's speak) cranked and on cloud 9! Starting to gather and really THINK about PODSTOCK 2011 ( July 22 & 23). First of all,

So what is Podstock?

It’s a conference. But it’s more than a conference. It’s conversation. It’s family.

It’s a bunch of cool folks getting together to learn more about how to improve education. And we’ll use whatever it takes - technology, PBL, gaming, online tools . . . we’ll try anything as long as it helps kids learn.

Podstock is about creativity, about inspiration, about what’s good for kids. Our formal and
informal conversations change how we do school.
The 2011 Guitar Pick

Now, that we know WHAT it is, let's talk about what I'm doing for, with and about it, you know, get with it. We came up with our theme, it's going to be more 50's diner-ish and it's going to be a kick. My plan is to use a menu as our conference book, you know the big Denny's-like type? and the placemat under the blue plate special will have all the web 2.0 stuff as well as vendors and sponsors being represented. We are also looking in to having our staff in retro bowling shirts. The reception that's in the mix will continue on with the theme by having bowling and a sock hop, however, since this is a conference discussing new technology, and virtual learning in Kansas (AND BEYOND!) it will be Wii bowling and a Second Life sock hop. It is going to be a hoot I'm sure.  

We've ordered enough guitar picks to fill the trunk of a '57 Chevy and working hard to provide the best Podstock scene to date so we've got it made in the shade! Also word from the bird is that there will be a sugar band that can wail playing a gig with ipads.

So, Daddy-O, pound the z's because the joint is gonna be jumpin' and the same old, same old is so lame. Be sure to fire up and flat out floor it to get your registration in soon.

Cast an eyeball on the nifty extras we have already created. The placemat listing web 2.0 resources (and any additional illuminations you might have!).

Placemat with web 2.0 resources

The "blue plate special

The Special

and the hand out card - Kevin is spraying them with the scent of maple syrup right now and that is really going to razz my berries!

Hand out card for conferences

So, don't be a party pooper, get all your friends on the horn and and scream on over to the Podstock website and get registered today, you dig?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Scottsdale, Arizona - The Desert Adventure- Tipping, News, Dog Parks & Wildlife-Yah, it's random

First subject: Tipping
This post will just be a rambling, smattering of random thinking provoked by experiences while in Arizona. The first being on tipping. Now I know tipping wait staff has been cussed and discussed more often than I want to think about but I'm going to bring it up anyway. While we were on vacation we ate out - ALOT- and most experiences were pleasant. We ate from the fast food sector and we dined at some very nice places (Don and Charlies in Scottsdale- YUM!), and we adjusted our expectations accordingly. But one specific instance caused me to ponder, yet again, why we don't just pay for our meal and extra 10-15% up front and let the restaurant pay the staff what they deserve.

A tip, or gratuity, is a small amount of money given voluntarily as a token of appreciation for a service rendered. We tip our servers as a way of thanking them for good service. We might also leave a very low tip, or no tip at all, as a signal that the service was substandard. 

Now that is a very good definition of what tipping is but what if the service is crappy? and what level of service should one expect? I believe many times we tip more out of moral obligation than as a show of appreciation of good service. But the event that brings this up is a particular lunch......let's just called it edRa obinRa......or something like that.... We get there, been to one before, no big surprise expected. We are seated at a very small table for two when there are plenty of bigger tables around and it is the middle of the afternoon. The waitress comes takes our drink order and you want me to bring the basket of steak fries before your meal (those are like baskets of chips at a mexican restaurant, an appetizer of sorts) and we reply yes that would be great. She disappears.....the drinks show up........we are thirsty drink them refills offered, matter of fact she walks by several times and also we never get the fries. Our food comes, is delivered by yet another person. Finally, the waitress appears to see if we need any refill (food is half gone at this point), and then, only THEN does she seem to care about us. Now the restaurant is not busy, and we see she has only one other table, seems a bit hard to feel sorry for her. Now we left the customary 15% but was it because of good service as intended? no, it was moral obligation.

Why have only certain service industries been given license of expectation to be tipped? What about the guy at the auto parts store that fills the order? or the lumber yard? or the florist? I don't have any answers to this conundrum, just simply verbalizing a little frustration.

Next subject: Television in Arizona.
Something that perplexed me while visiting here was why, oh why, do they have soooo many news/variety shows. We had Good Morning Arizona, Good Afternoon Arizona and the news show was basically Good Evening Arizona......same stuff different hosts....and TMZ the entertainment (and I use the word loosely) gossip show. I swear if it was on once during the day, it was 3 times. The only thing I can figure out is that maybe the people that watch all this have alzheimer's and don't remember seeing it the first couple of times and every show is like a brand new episode... sorry, I'm just saying....

Next subject: Dog Parks
While in Scottsdale our condo was very close to a huge dog park, about the size of a baseball field, matter of fact it was in the park next to a couple of diamonds. It was separated into small dog or large dog sections. It was always busy, but on the gosh, I'd say 100 dogs at least, all romping and playing and it was a hoot to watch. At first I thought- my goodness these people really love their dogs, (we would also see many people out walking their dogs) but then I came to a conclusion, they walk their dogs and take them to the park because they have NO YARDS! The yards if any are either small with very little grass or all rocks, not conducive to really let a pet get the exercise it needs. So that answered that.

Next subject: Wildlife
And now just the final observation. There is no wildlife (other than the geese and ducks in the parks and dogs on leashes) in Arizona. BUT, coming home and driving through New Mexico we saw a site that was beautiful. A herd of antelope in the field by the road. Totally made my day. And then in the next mile I saw tumbleweeds.......lots of tumbleweeds......oh well, take the good with the bad.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Scottsdale, Arizona - The Desert Adventure - The Grand Canyon

Yesterday was a trip to the Grand Canyon, although very excited about seeing it (I think I've only seen it from the air before) the four hour, one-way drive did not excite me. But we loaded up and headed that direction early in the morning. My first picture was sunrise from the vehicle going down the highway and then once we got to the Kaibib National Forest I saw Smokey the Bear.

Then it was on up to the canyon, what is normally a $25.00 entry fee, was knocked down to a mere $8.00 because my mother (whispers.....a senior citizen) was in the vehicle.

Seems like a steep price to pay but when driving through and seeing all the improvements and nice amenities around it was understandable. As you might guess, the pictures don't begin to do it justice. It should be on everyone's bucket list.

 How the Canyon Came to be the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is probably the world’s most spectacular example of the power of erosion. Scientists estimate the Grand Canyon began forming 6 million years ago with the downward cutting (erosion) of the Colorado River, which flows through the Canyon. The work is by no means finished. The powerful forces of the river, rain, snow, heat, frost and wind are still sculpting the fantastic shapes of precipitous bluffs and towering buttes.

The Numbers
Grand Canyon
  • Length: 277 river miles
  • Average width: 10 mi. (max. 15 mi.)
  • Average depth: 4000 ft. (max. one mi.)
  • Acres: 1,218,375
  • South Rim elevation: 7,000 ft.
  • North Rim elevation: 8,100 ft.
  • Phantom Ranch elevation: 2400 ft.
  • Average high temperatures:
    Jan. - 41o F (rim), 56o F (gorge)
    July - 85o F (rim), 107o F (gorge)
  • Average rainfall: 16” (rim), 8.44” (gorge)
  • Average snowfall: 62” (rim), 2” (gorge)
Colorado River (within the park)
  • Length: 277 mi
  • Average width: 300 ft.
  • Average depth: 40 ft.
  • Average speed: 4 miles per hour

 The definite changes from the different levels and types of rock were clearly visible. There are 3 groups of types of rock, 18 different kinds.

As many of you know, I am a total wildlife freak and was excited about the possibilities, but......aside from Smokey the Bear......this was the only wildlife I saw, a Raven. And yes, he was taunting me.

Home to 88 species of mammals, 56 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 17 species of fish (the Humpback Chub and the Razorback Sucker are on the US endangered species list). There are more than 300 species of birds within the Park including the Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, the California Condor (10 ft. wingspan) and the raven (largest of crows). Boasts approximately 2,000 species of plants, mosses and other vegetation.

Then the last thing that was a photo op......another picture from the vehicle......the Arizona sunset, and I can only describe the beautiful colors - bright oranges, deep turquoise, subtle yellows........gorgeous over the gigantic red rocks.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Scottsdale, Arizona- The Desert Adventure - Fountain Hills

Today we went to see the huge fountain in Fountain Hills, Arizona. I know, I know, big whoopie, a fountain, but it was a beautiful area and the fountain was quite amazing.

The Fountain was once listed in Guinness World Records as the tallest fountain in the world, although that listing doesn't exist anymore and there may be taller fountains now.
  • The Fountain has been operational since 1970.
  • When the fountain is operating, it has a column of water that can reach 562 feet in height.
  • The Fountain is set in the middle of a 30 acre lake. It spurts a column of water for 15 minutes every hour on the hour between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m., unless weather conditions (wind) prohibit it.
  • If the wind reaches 10 MPH, the Fountain automatically turns itself off.
  • On most days, the water from the Fountain only reaches a height of about 330 feet. That's because there are three pumps operating the Fountain. Usually, only two are in use, with one of them being a backup. When all three pumps are operating together, water stream can get as high as 560 feet.
  • You won't hear the fountain when it is working--it's very quiet!
  • Once a year, on St. Patrick's Day, the Town of Fountain Hills adds color--green, of course--to the water.

The area was filled with lovely million dollar homes and the terrain was very hilly. It seemed to be a very artsy area with bronze statues everywhere.

And there was this statue made of tons of scrap metal, name Maytag Matilda, by Dixie Jewett.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Scottsdale, Arizona - The Desert Adventure- FRESH JUICE!

Ok, when you go someplace and you see fruit growing on the trees everywhere you tend to think, oh it must not be good or buggy or some sort of problem with it. Well at the condo we are staying at a huge grapefruit tree in the back yard.

Greg decided he was going to try to make some grapefruit juice. We found an electric juicer in the pantry and set off to see what kind of mess we could make. It was actually quite uneventful, he sliced about 4 grapefruits and it made two tall glasses of grapefruit juice. The juice was not bitter and very tasty. I can only imagine what it would be like to have fresh juice every day and even though I don't like fruit, maybe this would be enough to influence my taste buds.

Scottsdale, Arizona - The Desert Adventure - FLW's Taliesin West

I went and visited Frank Lloyd Wright's, home and school of architecture in Arizona, Taliesin West. I wasn't too excited at first by looking at the pictures online it didn't seem that fascinating to me but others wanted to visit so I willingly went along. What I wasn't counting on was a great lesson into the life and works of Frank Lloyd Wright. I had vistited another structure of his in Bartlesville, Oklahoma called the Price Tower.

Frank Lloyd Wright for all his oddities and eccentricities was a brilliant architect. It is said that all he needed to make a building was his imagination, a triangle and a Tsquare. No rulers necessary. It was a great tour and we had a fabulous and very informative tour guide.