The potatoes turned out GREAT

Holly says…

I think it would be best to use a straight concentration of ACV to soak them in, to get them a bit more zing.  They dried out overnight and curled up as dry as can be.  I think they’d be great for dipping just about anything into, but they don’t really have that salty addictive taste that I’d like in a chip, as I had to add too much water to the ACV.


Today we shot the Mosquito Lake School shots, then I shot the Cross country Team, then shot the community photos, and then some volleyball.  It was a really busy day.

GoDaddy dot com

I saw this video today from, the company that I host my domain at, and really thought it was funny.  It requires a bit of bandwidth. To be honest, it’s a bit out on the edge, as far as parodies go.  It’s making fun of the 3rd circuit court’s decision to nix the fine CBS got for the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction a few years back.  Perhaps I should not leave it up.

Let me know if you think it’s funny, or just inappropriate.  If you want you can skip along to about half way through the video and save some time.

Here’s a link, incase the video does not imbed.


I thought it was pretty funny.

I bought a book on how to draw cartoons…

I’m not sure if I have time to learn to draw cartoons, but I really liked the thought of drawing cartoons when we went to the Hobby Lobby in Wichita, KS.  The I bought is a nice hardbound affair, “The Beginner’s Guide to Drawing Cartoons: a step by step guide to drawing Fantastic Cartoons by: Paul B. Davies, Kevin Faeber, Terry Longhurst, and David Pattison, with text by Amanda O’Neill and seems pretty well thought out.

So, tonight, I thought I had a fire department meeting, but I didn’t, so I had the gift of an extra hour.  How often does that happen?

Not very often.  I wanted to get a set of paints and an easel, but really, when and where would I find the time?

Holly is going off cooked food so she’s busy making some Raw food treats.  Elisabet is working on photos, so I thought I’d get out my Motion Computing LE1600, fire up Art Rage 2.0, and practice on the first lesson in the book.  After 40 minutes, here’s what I I have this fish that I know how to draw. 

fish #1

Take care.  Perhaps I’ll do another one later on if there’s time.

Lisa Murkowski visits Haines (for the Beer Festival)!

On Friday, the last day of school, I was surprised when someone walked down the hall saying that Lisa Murkowski was touring the new school with Mayor Fred Shields. 

IMG_5160 cropedAt first, I wasn’t going to stop cleaning up my desk and just poo poo the whole ‘famous politician comes to town’ thing, but then I thought to myself, “Hey I’m a photographer.  I wonder if anyone is even taking pictures?  Well, if there is someone taking pictures, I can probably take better pictures with my equipment than they can with theirs.”

So off I went to find Fred and Lisa.  Of course it was easy to find them, as Fred was in fine form with his gregarious personality kicked up high after his recent moves in the assembly and securing a new city manager.  We thanked her for he votes on the safe school act and also on the waiver of ultra smalls schools needing their teachers to be highly qualified in all areas. There really is no way that schools like Stebens or Mountain Village can affordably hire 4-5 high school teachers that are highly qualified in each subject to teach under 30 kids, and there’s no reasonable way to expect a single teacher (that is teaching there for a few years) there to get highly qualified in every subject.  It’s often easier to just move to a bigger city than it is to pick up multiple certificates.

Anyhow…  I was surprised that she remembered me from her last visit.  She said, I remember you from before.  I frankly don’t remember meeting her last time, but people like her have a way of remembering people like me.  I was holding my camera with the flash mounted and the fongosphere installed and looking conspicuous, so I could see how someone would recognize that.

At first I tried to find something intelligent to say, but then realized quickly as I sifted through my memories that I have absolutely no idea what’s going on on the national level with education or politics, what kind of votes she’s made, or where she stands on any of the major wedge issues etc.  I did notice the recent check I got from the treasury and also the battle the dems are having for the presidential nomination.

So I started to focus on getting a good shot.  At first it was tough finding a good shot, because she was walking through darkened halls and there were no kids around, just teachers and they were almost in their work clothes.  But then Ashley invited her to throw the opening pitch in the first little league game and I knew I had my shot there. 

Here’s an Oil Painting I did today…

I like this one.

It is particularly fun to mix and blend colors, to swoop and swirl them, to go clock-wise one time and counter-clockwise the next, to pick muted colors and blend them in with rich colors and then pop them right next to some outlandish vibrantly bright colors.

Colors are cool.  BAM.

Capture1Here’s a picture of the screen when Ink Art is running. In the lower left-hand corner is the tool selection tool, and just above that is the tool size selector, it’s currently set to the oil paint brush that is 52% of it’s maximum size.

In the lower right-hand corner is the color selector tool.  To use this layout,  one selects the desired color from the vertical line spectrum, then then selects the tone of the color from black to white and everything in between. The red 1/4 ring near the bottom lower right-hand corner tells which color is currently selected.  There’s an eye-droper tool at the top of this tool which you can probably barely see that is very useful if you want to duplicate a color you already have in the painting or on the reference photo you can import.

If you haven’t gotten a cool painting program, I recommend Ink Art to you right away for oils.  If you want to do pencil sketches, use Alias Sketchbook Pro, as it has much better pencil algorithms than Ink Art.

Painting is cool.


Is Oil Painting Dead?

Yesterday, I downloaded Ink Art from Microsoft’s Tablet Experience Suite and have to say that I’m very impressed with it.


Here’s what I like (keep in mind, I’m a math teacher/photographer not an artist):

  • The strokes actually look like brush strokes.  BAM!  People look at the screen and say, “Wow, it really looks like an oil painting!” 
  • The oils blend in a natural way.  Notice the blending in the swirls: Cool.
  • The brush gets contaminated with all the various colors and has to be cleaned to get new colors (or it can be set to auto clean on each stroke) 
  • The colors palette is huge: anything from vibrant, to muted, or lively to dreary can be selected in an instant.  I don’t have to mix up each color, just pick them from a spectrum.
  • The user interface is simply a masterpiece of software engineering.  Hands down, this is the easiest software to use that I’ve come across.  Kudos to the designers. When I want a wider brush or chalk, I simply make it wider with a flick of the pen, want to switch colors, BAM! you’ve got a new color.
  • I haven’t done this yet, but the program has a tracing paper function that is probably quite powerful.  The basic idea here is that if you have an image on your computer that you want to paint you can simply load it into Ink Art  and have it directly beneath your artwork.  It can be set to auto select color from the image, or not.
  • It runs really fast on my Tablet PC, which is an 2005 vintage Motion Computing LE1600 (Centrino 1.5 Ghz, 30GB HD, with 1.5 GB RAM).  In other words, it only has a single core processor.
  • It has a really cool WOW factor with the kids.  They see the paintings, think they’re cool, and want to draw their own. 
  • Drawing tools included: pencil, crayons, chalk, felt tip pen, oils, and you can scrape with an adjustable knife.
  • There are nine different ways to select your colors.
  • Pressure and stroke of the pens is VERY adjustable, instantly.  It feels very natural to draw on the screen, almost like drawing on paper.
  • The best thing about Ink Art is that it’s a free download on Microsoft’s site.

Here’s what I don’t like:

  • No Mac Version.  Actually this is a bit of a plus.  It turns out that Ink Art is almost identical to a PC/Mac program called Art Rage 2.5 which is also a free download.  Take note that there is a Pro version which costs $25.
  • Ink Art will not run on Windows Vista.  But this is not a problem since it’s nearly identical to Art Rage, which is a free download for the beginner version.
  • This program is designed for a Tablet.  Whereas you can use it on a regular PC, it is very tough to find the pointer when using a mouse, point stick, or or track pad, since it’s a very tiny dot.  This is not a problem with a tablet/stylus setup as the pointer is always right beneath the stylus.
  • I don’t see any way add multiple layers.  If you outgrow the beginner version, pony up $25 for the Pro Version of Art Rage and add layers to your heart’s content.
  • No actions (Macros)
  • I don’t see any customizable brushes.
  • The *.ptg file format is not an industry standard but the program does export files to *.bmp, *.jpeg, or *.png files.  These options are easily accessible in the file menu.
  • The program could benefit some with a higher end computer or tablet interface, I think.  When I’m doing really fast swirls where colors are blending, sometimes the brush skips over the paper.
  • The default image size is just about screen size for most things  and is given in pixels so output sizes need to be calculated outside the program.  It would be cool if one could designate an 13″x19″ image at, say 300 dpi and it would automatically calculate the pixel size for me (300×13 by 300×19).  I haven’t even tried working on a file that big yet, as I’m sticking to smaller ‘desktop’ file sizes for the time being (1024×768) which would only print as 4×5″ outputs.

These cons are just niggles.  Ink Art is a compelling program.  For Windows XP users, I don’t see any reason not to download Ink Art and start having fun (unless the baby is crying). For me, Ink Art is a load of fun. It draws me in to the creative process and time flies. 

I highly recommend it for anyone who has never tried digital painting.  I’d love to see what an experienced person could do with this type of program and I think it’d be a real HOOT to take a painting class.

Review by an artist: Chad Essley

I’ll upload some more paintings in a bit.

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. 

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.

The TABLET is in!

And it’s better than I thought it would be.

Well, last Tuesday, I got the Motion Computing LE1600 in the mail  and started to learn how to use it.  I tried the two main tablet applications: Windows Journal, and OneNote.   I have to say that OneNote is an awesome program and that the LE1600 is a wonderful tool for lecturing on math.  The kids love it, I love it.  Frankly, it’s awesome.

I will go into detail later.  But it’s very easy to use and very intuitive–almost organic.  I really can’t say enough good about it.  The school bought the wireless adapter for it, so that should be in pretty soon too.

I am expecting to get MS Office 2007 with OneNote pretty soon too, and I simply can’t wait!

Also, I went to and ordered another GB of RAM too. 

More later…

Oh, I’m low on cash right now too. 

It happens.

Tablet hasn’t arrived yet…

I contacted him and here’s what he said.

I wrote an email to the dude that sold me the Motion Computing LE1600 and he said he was very, very sorry.  He’d had a family emergency and just wasn’t thinking straight.  Here’s what he said, “I only use the post office for my junk-mail and first class mail, so I only go to the post office about once a week.  So I mailed the laptop two Monday’s ago, like I said, then I went to the post office this post office, and I had a parcel, but the line was so long I didn’t bother to check to see what it was, then I went in there today and it was the laptop.  I’d return address mixed up with the ‘send to’ address and so it came back to me.”

We went on to apologize profusely and repeatedly, that his mom was dying, etc.  So I really had no choice but to wish he and his mom well and ask him if he’d sent the tablet PC to me yet.  He said he’d already sent it 2nd day air to me so it should be in by Saturday or Sunday. 

At least he didn’t send it Parcel Post.