Monthly Archives: February 2003

Creative Flow

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Well, the party’s over – and so is my long weekend. The return to classes was not too painful, but I didn’t get enough sleep last night. I stayed up until about 11 or so, working on the Links page for my new website. It looks awesome, but is out of control. I need to go back into Photoshop and edit some of the icons that I just copied and pasted into my webpage. It’s a whopping 1200 or so pixels wide, and that’s supposed to be a “no-no” in web design. Also, they won’t center.

Then, my husband came home wired from music editing, and we talked until almost 12:30. We have to get up at ONE of the 3 snooze button hits between 5:30 and 6:00 am. I made an Indian casserole for International Food Day – it was Vegetable Biryani from a spice envelope that I got at the International Farmers Market. I added vegetables and rice.

I had good lesson plans, and the copy machine was finicky, but finally gave up the 60 copies I needed for today. I hope I am as fortunate tomorrow. But now, I am into making personalized greeting cards in Microsoft Publisher, and sat at my desk doing that instead of grading papers. I brought the papers home last night and didn’t grade them. I rarely do that at home any more, so I don’t know why I even bother to lug them there and back.

I made Valentine’s Day cards last week, and cute birthday cards for Dad (Saturday) and for my husband’s step father (today). Dad’s card is all about his new obsession: buying and selling antique postcards. I copied and pasted pictures of cards and stamps from a great vintage postcard e-card site I found and then added some quotes (one about travel and one about history). I just had to add a jab about whether or not these cards were found on E-Bay, and I was done.

The other card is for another avid collector. My father and husband’s stepfather have their birthdays one day apart and they both get “into” things and collect them. My dad has dealt in everything on Earth, from bottles to railroad nails to baseball cards to comic books to Beanie Babies. His interest is more in the “lottery” aspect of collecting (If only he could find that first issue Superman comic, he could be a millionaire.

My husband’s stepfather has money. He collects things of value, I am sure, and gets just as caught up in it, but I don’t think he’s hoping for the pot of gold. He is into “complete sets” – especially concerning the Toby Mugs. His house is overflowing with them. Big ones. Medium-sized ones. Itty bitty ones.

So, I got his card idea from a visit to their house where he showed me his jackalope. It’s a stuffed rabbit with antlers sewn on top of its head. I found a Jackalope fan site, and copied some stuff from it, and actually found some Dungeons and Dragons (or other gaming site) that had made a character of a Toby Mug and improvised on that text. I came up with a funny card, for which the punchline jabbed at his propensity for collecting “bizarre” objects. I think that it’s funny, anyway!

I had my 4th website design class, and we learned how to make tables from scratch. I had been working with tables from programs like Page Mill, and then GoLive, so this helped me understand two things:

How tables are “really” done

How much easier it is to use a program

My instructor looked at my web pages and was complimentary. A fellow student who “designs” webpages did comment on my use of bright colors, but I don’t plan on compromising on that right now. I like ’em, and it’s MY website!

I need to go to bed. If my husband doesn’t get back soon, he will sleep on the guest bed. I need sleep, not talk. But I am very happy that both of us are expressing ourselves creatively. It’s fun!

P.S.- no one has signed up for my class on ePals.com. I made flyers today to put up in the copy rooms, and asked that a copy be sent out to the staff. I am not preparing anything until someone signs up!

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Teacher Workday

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Last night, I worked on my contacts page for my website. It looks gorgeous and is almost done. I had some major problem with the Marietta City Schools logo.gif that I wanted to use, and, although I got my Bravenet Guestmap to show up on the Preview page, it is invisible on my layout page. We’ll have to see when we upload it.

Also, I signed up for another SignMyGuestbook.com guestbook, using my school e-mail address, and I have not gotten a confirmation/password e-mail yet. I wonder if I’m not allowed two? Well, it’s probably overkill to have e-mail, guestmap AND guestbook anyway. But what am I going to put in that third box? 😉

This morning was a teacher work day. We had a breakfast (I went in on croissants and pain au chocolat that the French teacher suggested our department provide) and a four hour Poverty Awareness Training program. Four hours. One teacher piped up and asked “How many credit hours are we getting for this?”

Yes, it’s all very interesting. Yes, it is a problem. And we listened. And discussed it in our little groups. We looked at the sample case studies, and finally came up with some ideas for how to see to this problem at our school. We spoke up, and submitted our work for our principal to look at.

But here is the deal: I know that there are some teachers staying after school to help students, and I think that most of us go some sort of extra mile. Not that we are getting any money or gratitude for it. Our principal said that it is great that we have all of these new ideas, but none of them would be successful unless we ALL get on board.

Okay.

I have 20 students right now – that’s right, ONLY 20. I teach ESOL, and there’s a class size limit. BUT, I also have all 20 of their numbers in my cell phone, and usually try to call and stumble through a Spanish conversation (I usually have to talk to the student if his parents are some of my other nationalities: Indian, Iranian, Brazilian…) to see why students are absent, to inform their parents that they are not performing well in class, or, in the case of a student recently on a 5 day suspension, the opportunity to pick up his work so he won’t fall too far behind.

I considered going to his house, and to drop it off myself. But where does it stop? Am I supposed to go on in, and DO the work for him? I am sooooo tired of all of the excuses for not doing homework (don’t get me started), when I am being asked to do MORE than just MY homework. That is where all of these new plans will hit the wall: we teachers can only do so much and still have a LIFE!

When I was entering the job force, just out of seven (yes, that’s seven years for the Bachelor’s Degree) years in college. I was working in a stock brokerage as a receptionist. I kinda liked it, but knew that I should look into ways to move up in the business. One of the sales assistants told me that she often came in on weekends to be sure she was caught up on her work. I thought “No way I would do that.” How naive. I stay after school all the time, working 10 hour days sometimes. I used to come in on weekends, but don’t want to learn how to work the alarm system now, so I work from home if necessary.

Yesterday, I watched the Oprah Winfrey Show, and it was “Queen for a Day” Day. Here’s how it goes: someone writes a letter to Oprah, which is so outstanding that it marched up the pyramid to her team, who tell Oprah that it is time to do something really nice for that person. Then, the plotting ensues, and that lucky person is invited (lured) to the show and surprised with all manner of gifts and compliments. Why can’t I be that person? Obviously, my fan club is not on the ball with that…;-)

On the other hand, for Valentine’s Day, two of my students gave me presents, and two more actually returned the e-card Valentine I sent to them from their accounts. That’s so great! I have some really great kids. It helps me tolerate the ones that are not so great!

Okay, enough with the teacher angst!

About the new neighbors

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Okay, I have been living in apartments for years, right? And I have really enjoyed living here. The next-door neighbors on our level (there are three floors, and we are on the top) are an older couple, and we love them! They have been here since we moved in, and are very cool.

We have had a series of families living in the other apartments here, and have had few problems with them. There was the young black man on the bottom floor, two levels below us, who has a bass level problem, but that bothered my husband and the middle neighbors more than me, because I am deaf to low level noise.

Okay, back to the point. A little over a month ago, while I was in the middle of printing out/reassembling/grading my students project (the day before grades were due…), this black woman was moving in with her two daughters. As I was coming in from running errands, I thought I would be polite and neighborly and introduce myself. After the intros, she said, “I’ll be up after we’re finished down here.” Okay…

Sure enough, as I was waiting for the pizza man, they came a knockin’. My first thought was, “Oh God, they’re Jehovahs Witnesses…” But they were also, I suppose, being neighborly. I just had to tell them that I had a lot of work to do. The girls ooh-ed and ah-ed over the dog. She really wanted to know if I knew where the bus stop was. Well, she’s out of luck there.

The next morning, as I was getting ready to go, I ran into her coming out to walk to the Cumberland Mall bus stop- not quite a mile away. I went back upstairs to get the printer, she was coming out again. I wonder if she was hoping that I would give her a ride to the bus stop, but I really didn’t want to get started doing that. I assume that, by now, she has found the nearest bus stop.

Since then, I have run into the girls after school every once in a while, but have not seen her much. But their presence is still felt in two ways:

The yelling and screaming

The lack of hot water

Yep, the worst of the yelling and screaming (fights, I assume, between her and her teenage daughters) was at 2AM (in the morning, in case you didn’t get that…) and it was so loud that It woke us up.

Since then, we have heard them occasionally. I am writing about it now because there was a lovely Sunday morning altercation yesterday. Now, I am sympathetic to a single woman who has two teenage daughters, but what to do? Will complaining even help? How do you not yell at your kids? I yelled at one of my students the other day, and he’s not even my son!

Did I mention that there are 3 women living down there? That must account for the first ever shortage of hot water. The water coming out of faucets has been notoriously steaming hot, so hot that we often wondered about posting warnings over our sinks so that guests would not scald themselves. Wheat complained to the office, and it is possible that they actually heeded our words, and turned the thermostat down.

I am assuming, because there is no hot water tank in our apartment, that we share our water source with our neighbors. But we have never has a problem with luke-warm water until now, and that was with the two apartments filled below. So, another call to the office.

Maybe all of this is a sign that our next abode needs to be a detached house, and not a condominium. After all, if you are living in a condominium, it can be like living in an apartment for life! My mother likes her condominium, but she is blessed with having good upstairs neighbors.

Marketing Myself

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This is all very interesting: this Diaryland concept. I have an account on Diary-X (and may still keep it there for ranting that I want to keep to myself), and they have no such thing as banners. You have a discreet little list that comes up when someone has updated their journal, and I think that the attraction is mainly in the names of the journals. At least that’s what attracted me.

What journals did I read (and still read)? I am a big fan of TheMuseWithin – she is horsey and starting college, just as I was at her age. I also love BeerMary, who now has her own domain. She is probably more my age, and has some really funny things to say and comment on. Both of them have killer layouts.

Here, on Diaryland, there are more options. Especially for “self-promotion,” which I find intriguing. I found an interesting article which talks about Diaryland and it’s founder, called Dear Diary. The article raises some interesting points.

Why have an “online diary”? Aren’t diaries supposed to be private in the first place? My husband is still a little perplexed (and perhaps concerned). After all, there is a fine line between sharing your own personal thoughts, and encroaching on the privacy of others. I am aware of that. Just because I am some middle-aged, exhibitionist, “Real World” wannabe who is trying to attract others to read my journal doesn’t give me the right to divulge personal things that might hurt my circle of family and friends. Hence, also, the other journal – to be used for “brain drain” and blowing off steam about the other people in my life.

So, my first foray into the Diaryland world of self promotion has been the creation and posting of banners that are supposedly run on the Diaryland website. I say “supposedly” because the likeliness of my being on a page where my banner is run (sitting there in my evening gown with a bottle of champagne and a couple of intimate friends – eyes focused on the screen and fingers jabbing at the “refresh” button) is almost non-existent. I know. I’ve TRIED.

So, how do I know? Well, since my greedy little self signed up to be a GOLD member (stop it with the jokes!), I have a certain amount of banner runs before I have to purchase them. So, off to Adobe Photoshop I go, to design my first banner – really just a tweaked version of my title. Here it is:

Well, when I looked at my banner statistics page, it looked like this:

total hits: 500 clicks so far: 6 clickthrough percentages: 1.2%
Second Banner run:
TH:500 CSF: 8 CTP: 1.6

There was a lovely explanation of these stats on the page, but basically, I decided- especially after looking at some of the elaborate Flash encoded banners of other members (and simultaneously wondering “WHY? WHY? Why can’t I see mine?)- that I needed to snazz it up a bit.

So here is banner #2:

I am really proud of it, even though my husband said it was a little difficult to read the subtitle. This time, I accidentally ordered TWO runs at the same time (It was late at night…). It is almost finished running, but so far, I have gotten double the amount of clickthroughs, and even a guestbook signing!!!! Hooray!

The comment in my guestbook made reference to *eye shielding* upon perusing my sight… What does one expect from tiedyefor? Pastels and bunnies?

Did I mention that I still need to go buy groceries? See, I do have a life!

Trixie Belden Site

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I have spent the day, randomly surfing the internet, looking at templates, even though I am quite happy with this one. I also went back to the Trixie Belden sites, while I was looking for t-shirts and pics of book covers to copy for my new site. We need to spread the word: Trixie Belden and the BWGs rock!!!

I found a lovely link that one can download, but I need to go back and try to see the code so I can paste it into my template. It will be the first (well, the third) “statement” I will be saying about myself – I am an unabashed fan of the Trixie Belden series.* I guess that one could tell that I am also a Peter Max fan and that I have read The Artist’s Way.

I am still debating about using that cute little notification letter to “share” my journal with people like my friend, Laura, and Mom. Part of me wants to say, “look what I’ve done – ain’t it purty?” but the other part says “Beware!”
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*alas – any of you rabid Trixie Belden fans may have to wait to find that site until I can get the frigging link to work! 😉

I think I’ve GOT it!

No, I don’t, but I WAS able to link the WORD Trixie Belden! That will have to do for now!

I am going back to bed

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I am up, because I had to go get the dogfood out of the car (I asked my husband to do it yesterday, but he did not – haruumph.). I am slightly hungover (2 glasses of wine – what a light-weight!) and typing without glasses (watch out for typos!)

I have 3 days off! Yay! Hy hubby will be out playing with music technology with a friend all day, so I may stay here, obsessively trying to get that image to be at the top of my diary, and changing the colors of my guestbook.

Then again, I could also work on my WEBSITE, the ORIGNAL reason for taking the 5 week class on website design. Hubby has set up Adobe Page Mill on my computer, so I can play around with that. He has also set up space on his server for my site. If it gets too big, then I will have to place it elsewhere.

Had the greatest time making Valentine’s cards yesterday, but now I have to deliver them. I have a feeling I will feel quite antisocial today (when am I NOT?) but I made the cards, so I guess I need to deliver them. I also can make a card for Dad’s birthday. Right now, I am having a super time copying pictures from art and graphics websites, but one day hope to finish some collages and run them through a scanner and Photoshop, and use them!

I put in another request for mor banner ads to be run, in hopes of attracting readers – a different concept than Diary-X. There, you just click on the list of most recently posted journals. Even if I don’t continue my journal there, I am glad that I paid him the $12 because he has hosted it for almost 2 years. This site seems better for hosting images, even though it cost more. And I can start fresh!

By the way, I think that the reason my journal would not post my new entries last night was because instead of pasting template code into my template area, I posted code from an entry. Hooray for me for figuring that out!

More frustration

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more wierdness. I tried adding this to a previous entry, and it was invisible. So, to avoid throwing my laptop across the room, I am just going to try to make it another entry.

After too much tinkering, and a broken heart (image), my husband has figured that there is something in the (overly ambitious) table script that I copied that is centering the heart next to my text. So, the bigger the right side gets, the lower down the heart goes… Ay Chihuahua!

So, instead of turning in early with my lovely husband, here I sit, making another graphic to put below my heart to add space to that side… Give UP already!!!!

I also need to see to my Guestbook. it is Goth Black to go with the template I was going to originally use, and I tried downloading code from Poo Designs, and it didn’t work. I may try to see if I can alter the color code in the black template – because I am obsessive about this right now…

Not that anyone has signed yet. I went to my Banner hit statistics, and it looked like someone “clicked through” to my site, but no one has signed in. I’m a bit paranoid, because one of my favorite diarists on Diary-X, themusewithin, has just closed her guestbook because of rude and harassing posters. Hmmmm. Caveat poster.

What the…?

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I just clicked on my diary, and there is no graphic! What has become of graphic?

That sucks! There are no more Peter Max hearts on ANY of my templates! I am “broken hearted”! ;-( Do you suppose that his people have found me and know that I am using his artwork on my PRIVATE journal site? Help!

What to do???

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I have just had another brilliant idea for a book. What about this great subculture of the online diary. It is something that many people I know don’t know about, yet it is out there. People have these diaries, and are letting others into their lives, and it’s pretty addictive. I can vouch for that!

Take me, for instance, staying up until 11:30, and now working on mine at school. And last night, I was just trying to find a cool layout. I like this one, but would eventually like to try to get the Peter Max heart one to work. It is truly me.

Still, how would I do it? I know that I could work to attract people to my diary, then keep files of the better guestbook sign ins and rants, and I can of course make it about myself – or a semi-fictitious person who is similar to myself. In case my life is too boring.

But what about the subcultures out there? What about the Ana-rings, or the very political African American site I was reading for a while, that seemed to be only essays on persecution by the White Man? How to credit? I would definitely make a list of my favorite diaries – if they still exist when I were to get this thing done…

I think that I will keep my Diary-X journal and use it for “brain drain,” and work on making this one more “experimental” and public. I will try protect the innocent by not giving out a lot of names. I am not sure if I am going to do the Siddhilights (another diarist) thing and come up with a cast of characters with made up names. That seems like it could either be really clever, or really lame. I liked the way she did it, though.

Lately, it seems that I am at least starting to come up with ideas to express my creativity. It is just manifesting in different ways. I used to really want to do film, and may still do that – what with all of the advances and home computer accessibility now, and with a husband who is becoming knowledgable of the I-movie.

I have paints, but have not really used them. I have my lovely collage journal that I have at least started, but it’s so easy to just plunk myself in front of the computer and play around on that – while watching TV at the same time. OUCH!

I also would like to incorporate some of my students’ forays into the Internet, with my ePALS project in full bloom right now!

And then, there’s the website, which is where I started before I got all sidetracked with the prettiness of the journal!

Help!!!! Not enough time…too much to do!!!!