Is there Water in Heaven?

Holly had a discussion about Heaven today with the boys as they got ready for lunch.

“Pastor Ron says that we all get to heaven at the same time.” Holly said.

Mark: “That’s not right.  Grandma Madsen is in heaven right now, and we’re still alive.” 

IMG_0356She died last month.

Holly: “We don’t really know exactly how we get to heaven.”

Luke piped up right away: ‘”That’s not right.  You fly to heaven.”

Holly: “Well, yes.”

Later on, just before nap time, Mark said, “Mama, Is there water in heaven?”

Holly: “I don’t know if there’s water in heaven, but if there’s not any, I’m going to get really thirsty.”

Mark: “Can you look it up?”

Holly: “The bible doesn’t say whether there is water in heaven or not.”

Mark: “Not in the Bible, Mama; look it up on the Internet!”

Before Mark went to sleep last night he said, “Mama, do you think God will let us be whatever age we want to when we’re in Heaven?

Holly thought for a while and said, “Maybe so.  I’ll be 27.  That was the age I was when I married Daddy.”

Mark, who is five years old, smiled and said, “I’m going to be seven!”

Notes are online…

My MS OneNote 2007 Class Notes are online!

I’m so excited about it, I can NOT believe it.

One of my goals for technology in my classroom this year was to get my class notes and assignments all online on a daily basis for my classroom.  For me, this was a big goal, because math text is notoriously difficult to handle on the web without using a lot of mouse clicks and specialized software.

Thanks to Ken Heiret (Holly’s Brother-in-law), I now have the notes uploaded to my folder on his server and viewable to the world.  This is so exciting, I can’t believe it.  I’ve wanted to do this for about 2-3 months now, and I finally got it done.

Here’s the link: CLICK HERE!!! It looks like this, if you follow the link.

OneNote site photo

One of the things that strikes me almost immediately, is that I need the opening page to be compelling and more general for people that might find the site that aren’t my students.  I’m think there could be an introduction page that has general facts about me and perhaps a picture or two of my classroom and the school.

Looking at the structure of the site, we can see that the tabs at the top are the tabs for the individual classes:

OneNote site tabs at the top

OneNote lesson tabsThe tabs down the side are links for the “Assignments” and the “Lesson Notes” for particular lessons.

I  really like the interface in many ways.

  1. It’s really easy to find the notes for any day in class for any lesson and they are automatically filed by date. 
  2. There is an assignment sheet at the top of each page.  Plus it’s an easy upload.  At the end of the day, I convert all the
  3. notes to mhtp files, then I upload them to the server. 
  4. The whole process of getting the notes online takes about 20 minutes at the end of the day and a few mouse clicks. 
  5. I access the server using Windows Remote Desktop.
  6. The notes are viewable by anyone using Internet Explorer 7 and connected to the Internet.
  7. Students can visit the page to find the assignments for the week or look at the notes in that have been given.

Some things I’d like better are:

  1. if the graph paper background was also uploaded with the files so that it would appear under the notes, just like it does in class, that would improve the look of the graphs.
  2. If I could imbed web links in the pages, that’d be wonderful for making links to web resources.
  3. If there were some way to make the site interactive without requiring a purchase of OneNote, which is unavailable for Mac. 
  4. More than half my students use Mac laptops and almost none of them have OneNote.
  5. If my handwriting were better, then the pages would look better.
  6. If the files uploaded were a bit smaller, then the pages would load quicker.
  7. If the files would be viewable on Safari and Firefox, then all the students could view them.  I’m sure there are workarounds for this, but I don’t know what they are yet.
  8. It’d be nice if I could replace the big ad for OneNote 2007 with a .jpeg of me in my classroom, or of the school, or some other picture.

Right now the pages that are uploaded are all .png files, which are compressed image files, and have about the same resolution as a standard FAX–not the greatest, but legible.

One workaround for getting the graph paper would be to put an image of some graph paper on the page I’m writing on and then do the graphs on the image of the graph paper.  For now, I’m simply making the graphs a little more detailed than I might normally do since by putting in more of the coordinates for the points along the x and y axes.

As soon as I got it done, I was on the phone with Jack and he was trying to view the notes and he couldn’t because he was not using Internet Explorer 7. 

Passport photos take three.

I wanted to get this skill down, so we went at it again.

IMG_2771Passport Luke 3 This time I was determined to get the exposure on the background even and white.  I got out my 550EX and set it to slave mode and put it on a light-stand behind the subject, then got out my 580EXII and set it to Master mode and made a few test shots.

The first problem was that the slave did not seem to register the signal from the master flash, so I set up a reflector off to the side to send the signal directly to the slave.  I did not want to get out the pocket wizards, although I was prepared to get out the WL strobes if I had to.

My initial plan was to use a translucent white background with a strobe behind it for the even lighting.  But then I realized all I really needed was a single flash behind the subject’s head aimed at any sort of white, matte finished white wall.

As you can see, the wall is evenly lit and white. 

I’ve got it down now.  And would feel comfortable taking anyone’s passport photo.

Passport Photos: Take 2!

Passport Mark 2 copyWell, I didn’t like the first photos we took, so I shot some more.

Here’s a sample from the second take.  We brought the boys to a white wall that was right near a large window with diffuse light (my classroom at school), and spent about 10 minutes trying to get decent smiles out of them.  It was actually pretty fun and Holly did a great job getting them to smile, but there were some technical problems with the photos.

The main thing that was wrong with the photos that I didIMG_2747 NOT want to fix in CS2 was the unevenly lit back-ground.  Passport photos do not allow this type of uneven background.  And whereas the lighting is very soft next to a big window like this, it does not evenly light the background.  Plus if I want to do a photo like this, I want to learn how to do it right.  A big window is not the way to go, especially if the sun is on that of the building.

The second thing wrong with the photos was that I did  NOT nail the exposure in the camera.  I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to getting the exposure nailed down correctly when actually taking the photos, so when I set up the camera for shooting a white background IMG_2759I set the exposure bias to +1 stop.  This is my standard camera setting when shooting in snow.  This caused the flesh tones to be unnatural: cute, but unnatural.  Bummer.

What I want to try next is just use a single remote flash behind the subject to give the background an evenly uniform white exposure.  I’m going to set the exposure to just a bias or +2/3 stop, then I’ll check the histogram to make sure everything is within proper exposure bounds.

I actually thought that these photos would be good enough for the magistrate, so we went down to the courthouse, and had John look at them.  He said we needed an evenly lit white/off-white background.  Bummer.

What about Passport pictures?

We need some passport pictures of the boys for the upcoming trip to Mexico.

How hard can it be to take some passport photos? What are the requirements?  Can I do this myself? The local store that does this charges $20 per photo for this service and does a fine job, but that’d be $80 out of pocket for the four I need.  I’m definitely not going pay anyone to take ‘passport’ pictures of my own family.  If you know me at all, this is not surprising.  Head shots are usually, on the surface, quite easy, but when you look at the details can be daunting.

Here’s what must be submitted to the state department:

  1. Two identical recent photos that are 2″x2″ square.
  2. The background must be uniform white or off-white.
  3. The head size from the bottom of the chin to the top of the hair must be between 1″ and 1 3/8″ (1.375″).

Mess up on any of these items and there will be delays.  When getting passport pictures, one thing that is generally not good is a delay, as travel times are usually set and soon approaching. Notice that the head size needs to be just a little bit bigger than half the height of the photo–this is crucial.

IMG_0106Holly of course wanted the boys to look nice and have a nice natural looking smile, so we had to wash their curly hair, scrub their little faces, and dress them up in matching outfits.  Here’s the first take on the left, straight from the camera. 

Passport MarkTo take this photo, we got out some white 20×30″ foam core matting and used that as the background near a window in the kitchen.  The main light was the natural window light, and I used the flash to fill in the shadows on the dark side of the face.  Notice the uniformly lit white background which is a requirement.  This can be done in Photoshop too, using a variety methods.  The trouble with on-camera flash can be the shadow on the wall behind the subject which is not allowed.  This must be managed.

measure tool locationI took the photo in portrait format (vertical). This was a mistake.  When I reframed it as a square photo in Photoshop as a 2×2″ 300dpi photo, there was not enough white space on the sides to make his head small enough, so I had to use the rubber-stamp tool (or clone tool) in photo shop to add white space on the sides of his head, as seen on right.  Perhaps there’s a quicker way to do this, but this is the tool I know. 

Also, notice that he has a clump of hair sticking up really high.  When I checked the height of his head from the bottom of the chin to the top of the hair, I was at about 1.41″, well beyond the allowed height of 1.375 inches.

Photoshop has a convenient little device called the “Measure Tool” in the tools palette, hidden underneath the color dropper that is very intuitive to use.  I’m not sure why they hid it there, but knew that I’d be able to find it’s location if I asked our local Photoshop/page layout guru, Jim Green. 

You can probably see that many of the tool icons in the default tools palette have a little triangle in the lower right hand corner.  These indicate that other hidden tools can be accessed by right-clicking on the icon, or ctrl-clicking on a Mac.  When you’re looking for a tool and can’t find it by looking, a good second step is to look under the standard tools.

At this point, I have a choice, I can either use Photoshop to scrunch his hair down or re-shoot.

I use an Olympus P-11 Dye Sublimation 4×6 printer that runs for about $80 and has a per print cost of $0.29 per print.  An odd trait of this printer is that it does not print at the stated size.  Some quick algebra told me that printing at 80% magnification in photo shop gives the correct sizes as listed by the measure tool.  I would think that most printers either don’t have the same size reduction, or print the correct size.  I strongly recommend this printer location 4×6 printing.  For larger prints, I use a Kodak 1400 Dye Sub locally, or use an online service.

Here’s a picture of the Tablet PC LE1600

I like using MS Office’s OneNote to write, store, and organize my notes in class.

Here’s a screen shot of the program.


You can probably just barely see the colored tabs across the top that say Algebra II, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Geometry, 5th Algebra I, Bus. Math, and Adv. Math, but those are the tabs for the class notes for each of those classes.  Then along the right-hand side of the screen, you probably can’t see what the tabs say, but they say, Assignments, Lesson 75, lesson 76, lesson 77, etc: these are the tabs that lead to the assignment sheet and the notes for those lessons.  This is the way I used to organize my notes in school (except that there were pages I tore out to turn in to the instructor or professor).

Here’s a picture taken from right near where I usually stand in my classroom IMG_1923which includes the tablet in the lower right corner and the screen at the front of the room.

I  really like this program MS OneNote and how it simulates a notebook, but saves everything in an organized fashion that I’ve written and allows me to display it all for the students to see, and print anything out for them as well.  If a student is absent, I can just print out the day’s notes and the assignment sheet for him, or her, by hitting print and the notes go to my personal, 21 PPM Network Printer (HP 4100), which duplexes, at the back of the room (which I bought four years ago for $500).

Of course, what makes this all possible is that we now have digital projectors in each class and brand new 5’x7′ screens to project onto.  If you’re a teacher, and don’t have a projector yet, start squeaking and get one of these projectors.  It’s much better than using the overhead projector or the whiteboard.  I’m storing my old overhead projector in the brown closet in the corner, incase some of this hi-tech stuff goes down.

I just called Motion Computing and told them my serial number (by going into the bios) and they said they’d send me the recovery CDs right away by next day air.  They haven’t arrived yet, but I am very impressed with their customer service department.  I don’t need them at this point, but may need them at some point in the future.

My LE1600 has a 30gig HD and 1.5GB of ram.  I just upgraded the memory from 512MB and am going to start searching for a hard drive imaging program that will allow me to image the 30GB HD over to a 60 or 100 GB HD.

I’m going to be getting OneNote 2007 in the mail any day, and then I’m going to start actively looking for a way to transfer these notes to a shared spot online using Microsoft’s SharePoint server software (I think that’s the name) then the students in the classes can access the day’s notes and the assignment from the Internet.

13th Annual Big Air Contest!

The big air contest was held at the Parade Grounds today and from my perspective it was a smashing success!

After yesterday’s downpour, it was a real treat for everyone to have perfect weather for the Big Air today.  It rained all day yesterday, nearly.  But today was another story, as you can see from the photos.

 IMG_2317Here’s a picture of Riley Nye (sp?) getting some good air.  I was quite impressed with the beginner division this year.  They had only the beginner’s division this year (or whatever it’s called) since the ramp and jump were so small that it was hard for them to really build up much speed. But it was fun nonetheless.  The Nye’s were here from Juneau serving up hot dogs from their grill, someone was playing some nice music, the sun came out and shown with a “whole in the sky, right over the jump,” as Luck Dunbar put it.

Holding the competition right here in town really added a lot, as the crowd was quite diverse and people were able to simply walk to it, instead of making the 1.5 hour drive up into Canada. 

IMG_2524 Another impressive individual to see in the race was Sean Asquith (in the blue helmet at right) who was in competition with his son Quinn.  I think he’s older than I am, and while he is a surfer and has great balance, it was still impressive to see someone of his age out there trying a sport that I think of as a bit risky and dare-devilish.

I was also really impressed by the 6 year old that jumped, Carver.  He did a great job on his skis and seemed to really know his IMG_2180 croppedway around on them.  My one regret in shooting the even is that I did not have a one-size-fits-all-super-zoom type of lens.  I could have seriously used an 18-200mm el-cheapo consumer lens with a maximum aperture of f/5.6.  I did not bring my longer telephoto lenses to the event and just shot with my 17-55 and 10-22mm.  Often in  bright snowy events, there is no need for expensive glass, just a light-weight high ratio zoom is plenty.

My Taxes are in the mail & the older boys are asleep.

Cha Ching!  It doesn’t get any better than this…

IMG_1936Today I went over to get some work done at school, then Holly and the boys came over to check out the Hoonah vs. Haines Jr. High Volleyball game. 

The boys were more interested in playing around in the room than they were in watching the game and I was too busy with stuff I had to do than the stuff I wanted to do (take pictures at the game).  Perhaps there will be a game tomorrow.

Today, John Caleb is just really making strides.  He can hold himself up on his elbows and smile really big!  His favorite thing to do is smile at Holly and have her pick him up.  That’s his best tool too.  She’s quite smitten with him (as is Pappa, Grandpa Plucker).  It’s impossible to get him to smile at the camera, as you might imagine, so Holly gets behind me and goo-goo’s, and gaa-gaa’s at him in a high pitched feminine tone.  I have to admit, it was really hard to decide how big to make this picture.

Three pieces of big news we heard today:  1) My first cousin Maurice & his wife Dasa are expecting a baby any day.  Wow, this is the first I’ve heard of that. 2) Another first cousin Jeremy & his wife Elisa are now expecting as well. 3) My mother is going on the HCG diet which is the subject of KevinTudeau’s latest book: “The Weight Loss Cure: ‘they don’t want you to know about.'”  This is really a bunch of information that is hard to get my mind wrapped around. 

I guess these things happen.

Yael Naim – New Soul

I don’t listen to much music…

But this piece by Yael Naim, along with the video, is simply wonderful.  Perhaps I like it because she kind of resembles Holly…

Thanks, Betty and Jack for the recommendation.

John Caleb is feeling better

A couple weeks ago, we went to a ‘pre-school’ birthday party with a bunch of kids that are going to be in Mark’s class and when we got there all the kids had a terrible cold: runny nose, cough.  I guess that happens sometimes. 

All the boys and I got sick for about a week, but it was the worst for John Caleb, since he didn’t know how to breathe through his mouth when his nose was clogged up.  This was particularly bad when he was trying to sleep.  I’ll not go into details right now…

IMG_1905Anyhow, it was a rough week, but John Caleb is finally over the hump and is back to being himself again.  AND, he knows how to breathe through his mouth purposefully now when he needs to.

One thing that I didn’t expect is that none of the boys, when they were born, knew how to breathe through their noses when they were congested.  IMG_1914bThey were all dedicated nose breathers from the time they were born and had  very difficult time breathing when especially when hey had a cold.  Eventually, they learned how to open their mouths.

Each morning, so that we can go on a walk together, Holly’s mother Margaret comes over at 7:30 AM to watch the boys for an hour or so.  The boys are just about always thrilled to have her here and are always eager to eat her food.  Luke customarily asks, “Blacky, do you have any cookies?”  What he’s asking for is some of Margaret’s homemade oatmeal cookies.

This morning as we were heading out the door, Holly pointed out that she had John  Caleb in his new outfit and he looked very cute dressed up as he was on the floor trying to read his book.  As soon as I noticIMG_1874ed the nice soft diffuse light coming in our large living room window, I had to get out the camera and join him on the floor for an impromptu environmental portrait of in his natural setting.  This is how I picture him, smiling at his mother while stretching out and trying to explore his universe, with his mommy there encouraging him each step of the way (while daddy takes his picture).