Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The New Year

This post is going to be quite a departure for me, as it isn't about politics or Barry Manilow, but rather about me.

I've been reading a book written by James Farrell called "The Hidden Christ". Among the lessons pointing to Christ are a few that have hit home to me.

The first was in the introduction when James talks about how the story of Noah and the Ark have a very deep and personal impact on each of us today.

"And we see in the flood not only the end of a sinful generation but the predicament of spiritual death that we all face unless we accept the invitation to board the ark - leaving behind whatever else might have seemed important or enticing, and submitting to every requirement of passage."

Keep in mind that only Noah's family was saved, which also has importance in that only those who take upon themselves the name of Christ and become a part of His family will be saved from a final death, a spiritual death.

The other lesson that has hit home for me is from the book of Exodus. The story of the Exodus isn't just a story of Isreal being removed from Egypt, but also having Egypt, with it's worldly enticements, removed from the hearts of Israel. This includes us today. How are we failing to become a true Zion because we are caught up with worldly pursuits? This, by the way, also includes cliques that Ward's can get into sometimes. You know, where people have to dress a certain way or do their hair or makeup a certain way in order to be considered "cool".

I've taken a look at how my life has been over the past few years, and I'm not happy with it. Right after Decker died, I was on this spiritual high, until reality hit, along with the grieving process, and a lot of that came crashing down. I'm not at that level that I was back then, spiritually speaking, and I miss it. I want to get back to that.

In order to do that, though, I need to get Egypt out of my Israelite heart. So, the last few days I've been doing some purging. Not just taking the garbage out of the house, yes I've been doing that. Not just cleaning up my home, although I've been doing that. But getting rid of some of the things that have been a distraction and a way for me to cheat and keep Egypt in my heart where it should not be. So, I'm making some changes, and I've already started.

I've finally gotten the Star Wars magazine subscription cancelled (and found a young man in my Ward who would love to take them off my hands).

I've cancelled the subscription to, and have no plans on renewing my fan club membership. I've not removed my profile from the message board, as I've made some wonderful friends there, but I do plan on visiting it a lot less.

I've also stopped the subscription to and have removed my account. This is because I wasn't meeting anyone who was interested in me, unless you count some strange men who are divorced, don't go to Church and don't hold a recommend who have been checking out my profile. Why these guys are on this site when no self respecting woman in the Church would settle for someone like that is beyond me, but there you have it.

This is just the beginning of my purging and purification process, and I know I'll fail on several occasions throughout the year. That's why we have repentance.

How grateful can we be for that? I know I am.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

One Last Christmas Carol

Something I wish every politician who has shortchanged our vets should be forced to watch, repeatedly.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Was Jesus Rich?

Even now, people who claim they understand Jesus still don't get it.

Was Jesus Rich?

Some of these people claim that Jesus was rich because of the donkey. It all depends on what a carpenter made back then, doesn't it?

Some people claim He had nice clothes. I'm sure there was some way that people kept Him clothed, housed and fed, and maybe Jesus started off his ministry with a dowry to be "sufficient for his needs", but that doesn't mean He was wealthy.

As far as Roman guards auctioning off his clothes, it doesn't matter what "class" level His clothes were, that was done to mock Jesus, after Jesus drove the money changers out of the Temple.

Oh, and as far as having a treasurer in the organization, duh, how do you think the tithes were handled back then?

It doesn't make Jesus wealthy by the standards of the world, it means He was smart with his money and knew how the Church of Jesus Christ should be organized back then, even down to the position of Ward Clerk.

This "Prosperity Gospel" is nothing more than a distortion of the truth in order to make the wealthy feel less bad about their money. Of course, I don't hear them preaching about the sins associated with some of the ways some of these people GOT their money.

As for Jesus' real wealth, well, you'll have to go to the other side of the veil to see that. Here's a hint, since He created the earth with all of the gold on it, perhaps His wealth isn't a measure of money, but of power. He had the power to redeem us, and so far I have yet to see a mortal man create a physical earth.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Too Funny!

Many thanks to my friend Barbara for emailing me the link to this:

I Love Stories Like This

Lost Letter of Two Lovers Found From 1953

The Pot Calling The Kettle Black

You have to love the sense of irony from the outrage of the Republicans:

Special Deals Keep Healthcare Afloat

Of course the Democrats are requiring compromises and "blackmail" of the Republicans. Who do you think they learned these tricks from?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Hanukkah Song

If you haven't seen this, you've missed out. It's a classic. Too bad we can't get Barry Manilow to write a song for Hanukkah.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Holiday Out

This is going to be a long post today, so be sure to settle in with a pumpkin muffin and hot chocolate (marshmallows are optional).

I had a wonderful time in Palm Springs, with a surprise I was not expecting.

After awaking at 5:00 am and working at the school for 5 1/2 hours, I left and boarded a plane for Palm Springs, California on Friday, December 4th. This is only the second time I've ventured outside of my comfort zone since my husband, Decker, passed away more than 9 years ago, so I'm feeling like I'm spreading my wings a little bit to see if I can still fly.

As the airplane made it's approach to the airport in Palm Springs, the pilot announced we were coming in for a landing, so I looked outside and this is what I saw:

A few minutes later, I noticed signs of life and felt a little better about this adventure I was embarking on:

At least now I knew we would be landing on an airstrip of some kind, not out in the middle of the desert or on the side of a mountain.

When I arrived there, I found out that there are no shuttle services to the area hotels, so I had to get a cab. That's when I met Ingrid, the cab driver. She was so nice, and so much fun to talk to. It took about 30 minutes to get to the hotel, but we bonded.

I was thankful that I went ahead and brought toys for the Toys for Tots drive that was going on there at the concert, as I didn't have time once I got to the hotel to get something before getting ready for the show.

Another cab ride later and I was at the McCallum theater for the show. For my Arizona friends, this theater is about the size of Grady Gammage Auditorium, complete with two balcony sections. From what I could see, it wasn't completely sold out, but almost.

Before we entered the theater for our Platinum pre-show reception I met Lori, Kathy and her husband, Mark. I hope I'm spelling their names correctly. We all figured out that we were there for the reception, so we hung out together while waiting for the doors to open, then we hung out together at the party.

There were at least 16 of us in a trailer that you had to walk outside the theater to get to. We were there at 7:00, as was requested, but no Barry! Garry (Barry's manager) showed up at about 7:30, Barry showed at about 7:50 and spent the time speed meeting with all of us. I kept checking my watch to see what time it was, because we were wondering how this new style of group Platinum experiences was going to work out.

They decorated the trailer nicely, very dark, though, with lots of draped velvet. Vikki (Executive Director of Barry's Fan Club) was serving champagne and water before going around and meeting everyone. Everyone there was so nice, including Barry. As soon as we were done with Barry, we were being escorted out of the room and going in to see the show. Poor Barry, he was sucking on a cough drop or throat lozenge while meeting with us, his voice was going hoarse. I know it was a cough drop, when I was standing beside him getting my photo taken with Barry he breathed on me. ;)

Barry and I shook hands as I was introduced by Vikki to him, and he repeated my name to make sure he had it correct. I smiled and repeated my name. But he wasn't looking in my eyes. I have no idea what he was looking at (maybe it was my necklace), but we never made eye contact. It was just as well, as I saw all of the stage make-up he was wearing and something unexpected (and unfortunate) happened.

The last time I saw a man with make-up on was when Decker was lying in his casket after he died. Seeing Barry with all of that make-up on brought on the flashbacks and I found myself going into this memory and feeling, again, traumatized as I was when I saw Decker. I couldn't say anything. I felt really stupid, but after the day I'd had, my brain was just not able to process something like this.

Thankfully Lori was there and was talking to Barry about her teaching her kids to sing his song "Christmas Is Just Around The Corner". He made a mention that given these were second graders, this song should be really hard for them to learn because there's so many words to the song. Wow! I was impressed that he would know that. I didn't realize he had worked with kids enough, I guess it's just something I had never thought about before. I was REALLY impressed by this. Sometimes you learn more and gain more out of a conversation by listening instead of talking. So maybe this trauma thing going on with memories of Decker happened for a reason?

We were told at the beginning of the party that our photographs taken with Barry would be emailed to us, and we found out at the concert that our autographed program would be sent to us in the mail.

Now I need to mention that for some reason, my camera settings ended up getting fouled up between the airplane flight and the concert, because the photo I had Lori take of me turned out like this:

The Mentalist was very good, but it wasn't the sort of thing people going to see Barry expected to see as an opening act. He needed an opening act, though, to give him time to finish the Platinums and finishing any last minute preparations before the concert.

The concert itself was just incredible. He had the students from the Coachella Valley schools come and perform, both on instruments that Barry was involved in donating to the schools and with vocals.

I don't remember all of the songs for all of the pictures, but I'll post the ones I do remember. (Sorry, but I'm lousy at remembering that sort of thing.)

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer

I believe this was Weekend In New England

Update: This was "I Am Your Child"

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Because It's Christmas

The music was fantastic, as you would expect from Barry, but it was loud. It had been a long and eventful day, so when we left the theater I was feeling bad. Really bad. Splitting headache bad. I hadn't eaten since lunchtime, so I needed a quick fix. Unfortunately it was 10:00 at night and everything was closing for the night. The cab driver did know that the McDonalds was open for a little while yet, so he drove me there and waited (yes the meter was running) so I could get some food. He, along with everyone else there that I met were so nice. Genuinely nice.

I got some food, took my meds and some ibuprofen for my head and called it a night.

The next morning, the memories of the night before, good and bad, came back and I found myself weeping over Decker. Nine years and I'm still hurt by it. The good news was, though, that I was still able to have a great time at the show, I met some wonderful new friends, both fans and those who live and work in the Palm Springs area.

Will I do this again? No. It's not because of Barry, it's because of me. I guess I just can't handle meeting a guy with make-up on. :) Do I want to meet him again? Yes, of course I'd love to meet with him and sit down and chat with him, but I've met the "Barry Manilow" in bright neon lights, instead I'd rather meet Barry. That guy who is so musically gifted and just plain nice.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Whenever You're In Trouble

If you've never heard this song nor seen this video, it's a must see.

Hunger In America

Here's another report on hunger in the richest nation in the word.

And a Bill Moyers Journal update from July 2009 on Hunger In America:

Premiere of Sarah Palin's Book

If it wasn't for the language that's usually in the show, I'd show this to the kids. :o)

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Excitement Over Sarah Palin's Book Release
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Jack's Mannequin

This is from the Daily Show. It's a segment worth watching. I bought the DVD, it's very emotional.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Jack's Mannequin - Swim
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

CNN Heroes - Efren Penaflorida

CNN Heroes - Doc Hendley

CNN Heroes - Andrea Ivory

Here's one of the heroes from CNN, I wish there were more like her, and more free mammogram programs.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Using Current Multimedia In Fictional Writing

Here's a blog that was posted on the tweet from Changing Hands Bookstore:

Whither The Blog Technology In Fiction

Do you feel there needs to be more use of current technology by fictional characters?


This is what you are hearing about Dubai now:

This is the part of Dubai you probably didn't know about. Caution: this is not for young children to view. This is from Frontline World on PBS.

Dubai Night Secrets

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm Thinking This Gives Reality TV Shows A New Low

Apparently the couple who crashed a White House State Dinner are vying for a spot on Bravo Channel's The Real Housewives of D.C. This is giving a new low to reality television, but is still not tops compared to Levi Johnston.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just When You Thought The Remnants of Cheney Were Gone

Watch this video, and see what operations have been operating beyond the scope of our own military councils. It's all coming out now.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Bohemian Rhapsody

Eighteen years ago yesterday Freddie Mercury passed away. I don't condone his lifestyle, but I enjoyed the music.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Law changes way teachers contract with districts

I can see why this law was made, but with the stinky pay teachers get now, this is going to make public schools in this area even less desirable to work for.

Law changes way teachers contract with districts

The Perils of Being A "Fanilow"

What is a "Fanilow"? It's a fan of Barry Manilow. I think most people know that, but there might be a few who don't.

This past week saw a shakeup of some sorts in Manilowland. First, though, a little backstory.

For years, fans of Barry Manilow have been the butt of jokes worldwide. A few months ago, Barry was in Britain performing for a concert there called the Proms In The Park. While there, he made the circuit of talk shows and radio shows to promote it. He went on a show called Jonathan Ross and got a little bit of a surprise:

What were they showing Barry?

And Barry's reaction?

You, know, it's really a shame Barry gets sea sick.

Why would fans go so gaga over Barry and do things like this? Well, this might give you an answer: it's the gift Barry gave Jonathan Ross to give to his wife.

Barry and his management team for years have been plugging the "sex god" image with his fans. The problem is that this can draw some very interesting people to his fan base. You've seen it before, the crazed fans who become the stalkers? Not everyone is like this in Manilowland, but sadly, there are enough of them and they seem to think they should determine what can be said on the My Manilow Network.

The sweet woman who made these pictures was in tears when she saw that Barry had seen her creations and now knew that she existed. I'm not kidding.

Then we have the fans who feel that neither Barry nor his management team can do no wrong, and if you voice an opinion on there that is not so flattering towards them you get blasted for it.

Some of these people clearly exhibit signs of codependency, but that's what Barry's management love: because no matter what garbage they dish out, these are the people who keep coming back for more.

There is also the group (and a sizable one at that) who feel it's okay to spread bootlegged videos of Barry around. I remember when this was done back in the 1980's and it was always advertised by word of mouth. Now, with the advent of the internet and email, keeping things from going viral that shouldn't can be a full time job.

A little while ago a fan was posting all over the place about how they were sent a letter from the legal team representing Barry because they found out she was making and selling bootlegged dvd's of old concerts that were not available for the public to purchase. They were doing this right around the time that ManilowTV was about to come out, so everyone could see the reasoning as to why the management waited until then to do this.

People were smelling blood wanting to know who it was that ratted this "innocent" person out, and reprimanding Barry's management for going after a fan. There was no communication then, and no hotline message with their point of view sent out to the fans, so what were they to think?

Then came the message this past week:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

URGENT ManilowTV Message

Several days ago we started to receive emails from friends who were concerned that a ManilowTV subscriber in Europe had started selling illegal bootleg DVD copies of the Manilow TV broadcasts. Like all of us, they were surprised that someone who pretended to be a fan was really out to rip off Barry and all the other musicians, artists, songwriters, casts, and crews who are involved in the production of these programs. Like all of us, they were offended that someone who had previously agreed not to be a bootlegger, would again try to rip off everyone while pretending to just be a good fan. Right.

This person has again been notified by the legal team and has again promised not to engage in illegal activities. This time, however, we have also notified the authorities in the host country and have blocked all ManilowTV access for subscribers in the host country and for those associated with the bootlegger. Hopefully this will stop the bootlegger and allow ManilowTV to continue.

It’s interesting to note that quite a few European countries have bootlegging laws much stronger than the US. Bootleggers routinely face fines, prison sentences and lifetime denial of internet access for infractions that many in the US would consider minor. Hopefully, our actions and the risk of further action by local governmental authorities will encourage this person to finally stop before we are forced to shut down ManilowTV.

To all of you who took the high road and shared both your concern and
your disgust….thank you.

As you can expect there were two very heated opinions coming out of this message: Who did this? and Who turned them in? I'm not kidding, I thought I saw a few pitchforks being raised on some of the messages on the message boards.

Do I support the managements actions with this? Yes and no. Yes, I agree that something needed to be done if a fan continues to make and sell bootlegged dvd's.

However these are fans who feel they are doing Barry a favor, because they are "sharing" the love that Barry brings to their lives to others. While this is clearly illegal, it wasn't really pursued until the advent of ManilowTV. At least not publicly pursued.

The management, as well as Barry himself, have been making money for years off of these fans, taking advantage of their codependent behaviors to squeeze yet another dime out of them. There are some fans who go to almost every concert, if not every concert, Barry appears in. They feel they need their "Barry fix".

I'm glad they are finally putting their foot down about the bootlegging, it is after all illegal, but it would be nice to see Barry and his management team actually do more to bring up the topic of unhealthy behaviors with some of these people. These are wonderful people, but what's going to happen with them if Barry decides to retire?

Just another note: not everyone is like this, but there are enough of them that it should be a concern.

Just my honest opinion.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Health Net Security Breach

If you have Health Net as your health insurance company, or did at some point or other, you'll want to read this article in the Arizona Republic.

Insurer didn't tell Ariz. about security breach

Friday, November 20, 2009

Somehow I'm not surprised by this.

Roche/Genentech's lobbyists got 42 members of Congress to place text from the company into Congressional Record. What is it Ralph Nader says, "a government by the Exxons, for the Mobiles and of the Duponts"?

Here's the source:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Cinderella's Castle has been dipped in sugar... here's the result!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Spike of Homeless Children in Las Vegas

This is also true in Arizona as well.

Health Care Issues In Small Business America

It's A Real Shame...

Elizabeth Warren didn't run for President. But, then of course, she would have had to run as an Independent which means she would have been treated like Ralph Nader was. Don't understand what I'm saying? Watch the video and see if she doesn't make some sense to you.

Teacher shortage gives way to a teacher glut

This article comes out of Kansas, but has become a national problem. The funny part is, that there are other articles telling people to become teachers, because that's where the jobs still are. They obviously haven't met these people.

Teacher shortage gives way to a teacher glut

Tuition aid not just to needy

By all means, folks, read it. Read what a convoluted mess this has become. We're putting a lot of money to help un-needy kids get into private schools instead of fixing the public schools.

But that would require parents to allow their children to mingle with "those kinds" of kids, right?

Tuition aid not just to needy

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ralph Nader, Fiction Writer

I have the book. At 733 pages, I may never get it read. I'm still trying to finish Blink.

Ralph Nader, Fiction Writer

GOP Hopefuls Jockeying Early for 2012 Presidential Race -

I won't get into the fact that we're, what, 3 years away from the next Presidential election? Goodness. I wonder what Ralph Nader is planning on doing in 2012?

GOP Hopefuls Jockeying Early for 2012 Presidential Race -

Posted using ShareThis

Best and Worst Inventions of 2009

It's close to the end of the calendar year, so the lists are starting up to rate all kinds of things for 2009. This one, shown on CNN, is a list from Time.

Tip on Edwards' $400 haircut from Obama camp

Tip on Edwards' $400 haircut from Obama camp

Kind of makes you wonder what else got "leaked" from the Obama camp, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For The Veterans In Our Lives

Don't forget to tell them you love and remember them:

Ammon A.W. Vaughn (2nd great- grandfather, center grave) - Co. E. 10th Indiana Infantry - Union - Civil War

Donald Robinson (uncle) - U.S. Army - WWII

Charles B. Sells (my father) - U.S. Army - Korean War

Ralph Michael Sells (my brother) - U.S. Army

If you're wondering if the service to our community stopped there for my family, you need to read the post for Father's Day last year: The Parable of the First Responder.

I love my country, not just in words but also in how I live my life. I've had some great role models to follow.

Happy Veterans Day to those who have sacrificed so much to keep our nation free and our lives so richly blessed.

God Bless The USA

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Have you seen the videos on They show them on the BYU channel, so I love watching them. Check them out!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Manilow TV: Episode 2

If you missed Episode one, click here.

The video on this was a little fuzzy, but the sound was fantastic. Barry, as usual, had a performance that was just superb. Some of the songs he performed on this I've never seen him perform before, so this was such a treat. Thank you, Barry.

Episode #2
November 1st 2009
PNC Bank Arts Center
Holmdel, New Jersey
Sunday August 4th, 2002
3pm Matinee after the Friday night flood

Here’s the second episode of Manilow TV.
This is the special Sunday Matinee we performed because of the legendary flood that happened on Friday evening, August 2nd.

The Friday show was supposed to be our first of three final concerts of the Manilow Live 2002 tour we had been on for 9 months. We were all feeling sad, but tired and ready to go home.

The day was beautiful.
Not a cloud in the sky.
No prediction of rain.
We were sold out with an excited audience.
The brilliant Curtis Stigers was our opening performer for that tour.
Curtis had finished his set.
I was walking from my dressing room to my entrance.
The band had taken their positions on the stage.

About ten seconds before I gave the cue to begin the opening music, Steve Ernaut, my stage manager, said to me, “Hold on Chief, it’s beginning to drizzle out there. Let’s wait a few minutes to see if the rain passes."
So we all stood there waiting to see what the weather would do.

Remember: Over 5,000 people all seated inside the pavilion and thousands more out on the lawn.
The band in the dark at their positions.
Me standing in the dark in the wings.

We all could hear the rain begin on the roof of the Pavilion very quietly.
Then we heard it get louder and louder.
Then it sounded like Elephants running on the Pavilion roof.
And then we heard the screams of the audience.
The storm hit without any warning and poured down on the thousands of people on the lawn.
They were soaked within seconds.
They started to run for cover under the pavilion roof.

Then the flood began.
There’s a huge, round hole in the ceiling of the PNC Pavilion.
Very pretty.
The water began to pour through this hole like a waterfall, soaking the people in the pavilion.

The water began to rush down the aisles, filled with garbage from everyone’s lunch and dinner.
Filled with mud from the lawn.
The water rose up to the audience’s waists.
That’s when we heard the screaming.
I peeked out of the wings and saw pandemonium.
People trying to get out of the way of the water.
Running to the side aisles, grabbing their kids, trying to scramble on to the stage.

The Fire and Police Departments arrived within minutes and tried to control the crowd.
It was awful. Just awful.
No one will ever forget it.

Doing a show was out of the question.
Even though some brave souls stayed,
hoping that the Fire Department would allow the show to go on, (they wouldn’t), we couldn’t anyway because all the sound system was soaked.
Thankfully, no one was hurt.
Just soaking wet and terrified.

Barry on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Hopefully it wasn't too muddy outside yet after the rainstorm that hit a few nights before. Barry's probably used to the bright spotlights, but was taking a little time adjusting to the sunlight.

You have to read his account of what happened before watching this show, as you understand why he performed as he did for this concert. You'll enjoy it all the more.

Why are you in my hotel room at this hour of the morning?

I Can't Smile Without You... in a sea of signs.

Brittany and Jimmy...

and Mom Andrea.

New York City Rhythm

Curtis Stigers

Here at the Mayflower... yes, that's right, he sang some songs from the Mayflower cd. And striking his sex god pose for the ladies. ;o)

The Best of Me... I've never seen this song performed, so I have to give Barry a big thank you. I'm sure the audience appreciated the sentiment he gave them for coming on a Sunday afternoon after having been drenched a few nights before. Hopefully it's also a message to those subscribing to watch this as well. :o)

At the Copa, Copacabana... the hottest spot north of Havana...

Let Freedom Ring... I think this song has taken on new meaning since Sept. 11, 2001. This was just shy of the one year anniversary and I don't think there was a dry eye in the house. I know I was on the verge of tears just watching it.

These pictures are from the end of the show (It's A Miracle) and had to include them for the smile factor.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New From Barry

Hi everyone!

I’m recuperating and doing fine.

Thanks for all good wishes.

The Hollywood Bowl show was a fantastic experience for all of us. The crowd was amazing and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra was magnificent. Hearing those beautiful arrangements and orchestrations made me want to stop singing and just listen to them!

The music was definitely a highlight of the night, but a close second was the knowledge that we were raising money to buy musical instruments for kids in the L.A. schools.

As you know, because of budget slashes, the Music and Arts departments of the public schools all over the country are being cut.

And even the schools that still have music departments are struggling to keep them going. They’re running out of instruments and the ones that they do have are in terrible shape. They need music stands, sheet music, band uniforms – you name it, they need it.

Music classes aren’t just for playtime. Music keeps the kids in school. Really. It keeps the kids coming back to school.

Ask any music teacher and they all say the same thing: when kids are in music classes their grades go up, they learn how to interact with other students and they stay in school.

The thought that the schools don’t have musical instruments or worse, that they may not have Music classes at all is just killing me.

I would like to ask you all to dive in and help me if you possibly can.

It would be so great if you could call your local high schools or middle schools and ask them what instruments they needed and if you could spring it, get the instruments for them.

I’m not suggesting anything near as large as what we’ve been doing of course. Just a trumpet or a clarinet or maybe even one of those Casio or Sony keyboards.

Maybe you’ve got some old music stands in the basement or a set of drums that no one is using anymore up in the attic. Just dust off Aunt Bessie, push her out of the way, and drive the set of drums down to the school!

If you guys could begin to help your local schools by keeping their music classes going, it would be the greatest Get-Well gift you could ever give me.

Once again, thanks for all the get-well wishes.

See you soon.

PS……If you don’t have an Aunt Bessie…..and want us to get instruments to schools in need… can also go to: then hit Donate Now………..

Barry, that was too funny, and I'm glad you are doing well and getting some much needed rest. As for me, I've been contributing to my school for years, and have a portable keyboard (plugs into the macs at school) that the music teachers use every year with my blessing.

First things first, though, there's an election coming up for a school bond that will rebuild my school. The school needs instruments, but we also need an updated school. We need the local citizens of Tempe to vote yes on the school bond. My school (K-8) is 40 years old and is having some major problems that are getting more and more costly to keep the school a safe learning environment.

My love to you, I'm looking forward to seeing you in December for one of your benefit concerts at the McCallum Theater.


What A Day!

Today was rather interesting. Shortly after school commenced this morning (at 9:00 am) a distinct and remaining odor of gas was smelled outside the school from the direction of the cafeteria. This is an old school (40 years old this year) so some of the heating trays in the cafeteria probably use gas.

The school was evacuated for about 1 hour, and given the proximity of my computer lab I was able to see the excitement from the front office and front of the school, where the police, fire department and even an ambulance convened to locate the source. The gas company also came out and found that the gas leak was not at the school after all, but was coming from a nearby home instead. Thankfully no one got hurt, the evacuation was quick, orderly and done according to how we drill for these things several times per year.

The firefighters were even nice enough to give the kids in front of the school cards with a picture of the fire truck with facts about the truck on the back.

By the end of the day, the smell of gas was gone, so I'm thinking they found the source and got it safely nipped in the bud before someone lost their home.

Now back to our regularly scheduled learning.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009


After my morning crossing guard job, I took our pyromaniac student to class (see the previous post on that one).

I dropped off a backpack that a parent had brought for a student who had left it had home.

I had 2 - 4th grade classes back to back, each on researching online, however two very different styles. I was only able to cover a very small part of what the students need to understand about the internet and how you search on the internet. I used the tablet (finally) so I could walk around the class and still control the computer.

The second 4th grade class, the teacher did the instruction and it was very quick, very brief but only covered a few points on how to search and what to search.

Our tech from the District IT dept. came and we got the A/V and VGA working in the back of the lab.

We also got the morning announcement system working. All of this in 15 minutes before the music class began.

The music class went well, we talked about how we would define music to an alien, we put the kids in two groups to come up with and write down all of the places we hear music, and then I was able to do the video demonstration I made Tuesday night of the different music set to the same video clip. All of it went well, but the impact of the different types of music to a movie was really made a big impact.

Next was 5th grade, but in between, I heard from the tech that the printer in a 3rd grade class wasn't working because there were network issues with the ports in the classrooms. I'm glad I had the tech check it!

By the time 5th grade came in, I received an email from a former staff member who now works at the District office and asked for copies of the dvd's I made of some professional development that occurred last school year. I began the task of copying the dvd's - in whole onto my laptop, so they could be duplicated. This is one of the wonderful things about owning a Mac, this is something not easily done on a Windows machine unless you have dual drives, and even then sometimes the software will not work as you want it to. With a Mac, it's all very simple and everything works as it should.

I sat and had lunch in the lounge and visited with co-workers which was really nice. It's a nice way to relax and visit outside of the stress in the classrooms.

I went back to the lab to continue with the copying onto my laptop. It was taking about 30 - 45 minutes for each one, and there were four to do. By the time I finished with the third, I tried getting the fourth on, but part of the way into it, I was getting a message that my hard drive was almost full. Then I checked to see the size of the files I had already copied and found they were each almost 4 GB each. I stopped copying and began the process of burning onto dvd the 3 I had already done.

I had to stop to do my afternoon crossing guard duty.

After returning, I got a call from a 7th grade teacher. The middle school students stay late on most Fridays in order to meet the state's requirements for instructional hours in a school year. The students were staying until 3:30 (by this time it was about 1:45) and because of the professional development that was going on there was a problem with the lesson plans the 7th grade teacher had in mind, so she decided to see if they could come into the lab from 3:00 - 3:30. I didn't think there would be a problem with this as I was thinking we were going to be doing some planning from about 2:00 - 3:00. No such luck. The professional development ended up getting the other teachers hooked in until almost 4:00.

I got an idea and set up the computers for the 7th grade class while still burning dvd's. Again, because of the size of the dvd files, it was taking a while to do this.

Then the person requesting the dvd's came to see if they could pick them up, but I only had one done and it was one they really didn't need. I wish I had known that.

I visited with this friend until the 7th grade class came in, and they left.

I continued with the dvd burning during the 7th grade class and showed off my new laptop I purchased last night while at Office Max. This will be explained in another post.

At 3:30 I had to go back out to do a second round of crossing guard duty for the middle school students.

I continued burning the dvd's, and then copied and burned the final dvd.

I left at 5:15 pm.

I went to Mom's house for a few minutes, but she was busy and I was tired and had a car full of stuff to bring home.

I came home, it was 6:00.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

After my morning crossing guard job...

I walked our pyromaniac student to his classroom. That's no joke, he was caught lighting a fire at a local Wal-Mart.

I signed the form showing I still have my college degrees. They have my transcripts on file, but the government makes me sign this form every year.

I received the new dongle from IT, and sent back the one that was dying. I keep a spare in the lab, and one of the teachers needed a new one on Tuesday. I switched mine out for the teacher's and am getting mine replaced. This is so that it doesn't interfere with the teacher's instruction time. By the way, the dongle is an adapter that allows the computer to be hooked up to a projector.

I mailing the printouts from the online calendar I have for the mobile cart, the Smartboards and the Document cameras. The district is wanting to know how much of these are getting used in each of the schools. At my school, I have an online calendars set up within our email system, that way everyone can readily see what has been reserved. The teachers then email myself (for the mobile cart) or the librarian (for the SmartBoards and Document Cameras) to let us know when they would like to reserve the technology.

I just finished assisting a teacher with a powerpoint activity they made on their home computer using the latest version of PowerPoint. The problem is that we use an older version of PowerPoint that is not compatible with the new one. Thankfully I also have the latest version on my laptop here at school, so I'm able to use one of my external hard drives to retrieve it off the teacher computer, take it to mine, open up the PowerPoint (I've also done this with documents) and save as the older version. Then I give the older version back to the teacher so they can work it off of their laptop. It takes longer to explain than to do it, but I try to explain to the teacher why their file isn't working.

Attempted to get the alternate A/V and VGA to project, but it is not working. Submitted ticket online to the IT Dept.

Taught some formatting basics to a 6th grade class.

Updated the librarian's computer.

Sent 2 emails to IT, one with the list of student ID#'s that won't log in, another for a couple of students ID#'s that will not open MS Word.

Updated a first grade teacher, the teacher also requested updates on Firefox and Macromedia flash.

Printed all new class lists. We've had some of our kinders sent over to Head Start - those who were not ready for kinder, but have also added new students, including a family of 5 who have moved into the area.

Received phone call from one of the administrative staff saying they could not change the background. I verified what they were doing was right by using mine, and then called IT. They are looking into why some of the laptops are working while others are not.

I set up the computers for the third grade class, their teacher wants them to use the BBC dance mat typing web site.

I competed with the third grade kids (and the teacher) on Dance Mat Typing. Yes, there are some perks to my job.

I logged the students off the computers and checked my emails.

I did my afternoon crossing guard duty.

I checked to see if the appointment I had for after school was ready, turns out she was in a meeting she must have forgotten about.

I spent some time talking with the librarian and she called the full time music teacher for our school to schedule some planning time for the three of us for after early release on Friday. We already have a game plan for music class #2 tomorrow.

I had some last minute emails to take care of after that, and by the time I shut everything down and locked everything up it was 4:45 when I left the school.

I drove to Costco and put gas in the car.

I still have to go to Office Max and get some folders for the class tomorrow. Something I forgot for Wednesday's class.

I'm tired, but after having eaten some mini pizzas I'm feeling better. Off now to Office Max.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Last Two Days

Things have been crazy, actually for three days, but I've already chronicled Monday.

Tuesday morning was less eventful, the power remained on so I was able to get more sleep.

Arrived at work at 7:15. At about 7:45 I got asked by our Librarian to try to get the morning announcement system working, but I wasn't able to get it working. I had the librarian call the A/V guys at our IT department at the district to come and get it up and running again. I could probably get it working, but I didn't have time to get it done before my Crossing Guard job began at 8:00.

After my crossing guard duty, I booted up the computers. Apparently yesterday's updates took out the timer feature I had set up for the computers to turn themselves on.

I spent the morning putting out computer fires, trying to get with the librarian so we could plan our general music class and getting with the teacher whose Friday Computer Lab time was going to have to be moved. It got moved to that morning, and the teacher requested I use the lesson I did last year on doing some layout editing on Microsoft Word. The students don't get a lot of time in the lab, so their knowledge of a lot of the software is limited and scattered from a period of some years. And that's for the kids who have been with us since kindergarten, we have quite a few who came from other schools with varying degrees of experience on the computers at their former schools, however some come with no experience at all. By the way, this class happens to be a 6th grade class. Anyway, thankfully I was able to find it quickly on one of my external hard drives and once the kids came to the lab and logged in I was able to push out the project for them to do.

After that class was finished, I had a small window of time to meet with the librarian to plan the music class. I then had to run back to the lab (thankfully it's right next door) as I had a 5th grade class trying to operate without me. Most of the kids already knew how to log in, however some of the logins didn't work. I had to work on that and push out the web site the kids were working on (the one I made yesterday) for their project.

Once I got everyone logged off I checked my email and found a kinder teacher sent an email requesting a video on fall, pumpkins, something like that to talk about the life cycle. I don't know when she needed it, but it sounded like she was going to need it before the end of the day. I logged onto Ideal and found a few segments of video on fall and why we have seasons. I downloaded them onto my laptop, then using bluetooth transferred them to my teacher computer, before pushing the videos out to the laptop for this kinder teacher. These are videos that are already cleared for classroom use and are found to be within the curriculum standards the State Dept. of Ed requires. Ideal is a site through the ADE (Ariz. Dept. of Ed.), and is supposed to be for teachers, however since I have a substitute certificate filed with the ADE, I qualified for access to this. After pushing the videos to her computer, I walked down to her classroom to explain to her what I found and brought the cables she would need to project the videos onto the classroom television.

I finally was able to stop for lunch at 12:30 and relax for a few minutes in the staff lounge.

At 1:00 I began prepping for the last round of classes, consisting of 2 - 1st grade classes, a 3rd grade class and a 2nd grade class.

The first grade class teachers requested during my lunch break for their students to type a sentence on Microsoft Word. They furnished the sentences. After seeing the first teacher explain this, I was able to better assist the second - 1st grade teacher with her class. The third grade class also decided to type on Word and brought in their spelling words for this. The second grade class opted for the Dance Mat Typing site, which required a change.

Once those classes were done, I quickly finished my crossing guard duty after school to log off and shut down the computers. School gets out at 3:30, I'm usually done with my crossing guard duty at 3:45, and I had a meeting in Tempe for the School District's bond election (see the Yes For Tempe Schools logo on the upper right corner of my blog page) at 4;00. I was done early with the crossing guard duty, so I was able to get things shut down and locked up for the night and leave with barely enough time to make it to the meeting.

One thing, though, I checked my emails one last time before leaving to find the agenda for the meeting from 5:00 - 7:00 for the District's Regional Design Team group #4. This meant I would need to call my visiting teaching companion to cancel my plans to visit teach after the bond meeting.

Both meetings went well, and I stopped by Costco afterwards and picked up some writing tablets for the kids to use in the general music class.

I finally made it home at 8:00. I was so tired I was ready to drop, but still had some work to do. After taking a break and watching a little bit of television, I finally turned off everything in the rest of the house and started on the work to prepare for the general music class. I brought home a dvd of Ghosts of the Abyss, and uploaded onto my computer one of the chapters of the movie. I then loaded the movie into Garageband where I took out the audio and replaced it with different music.

Today saw a little less activity, but still a bit of craziness by the end of the day.

I had a few minutes to sit and relax this morning after finishing the crossing guard job.

I posted a few emails, namely one letting the 7th and 8th grade teachers to have their students bring pencils with them for the class. Then the eruptions started. First was the librarian who told me we were supposed to wait to discuss this with the principal today, rather than actually starting today. I had already spoken with the music teacher the kids have been with up until now, and she was already under the impression (as was I) that we were starting today. Oops. I apologized, but I did indicate that I had already gotten the lesson taken care of, and the supplies bought (which I did). Then the librarian brought up an idea she had for a lesson and she thought we should start it off with what she had in mind. I didn't take it wrong at all, my attitude was, okay, let's do what you had in mind and we'll do what I planned for on Friday. Bonus! :o)

The class went through just fine, and we gave ourselves a little pat on the back. The kids did fine with what the librarian had in mind, and we finished with the first installment of having them journal about their feelings while listening to a song. The song was Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. I chose this song because it's upbeat and sends a very powerful message, if you can get the kids to listen to the words. After playing it twice and talking about what our feelings were for the song, and writing a few on the board, the kids started writing and I could tell from their comments that the messages in the song were sinking in. It was something they hadn't heard before.

I had about a half hour to prep for the two kinder classes I have next, and they went well.

After kinder, I had a 30 minute lunch break and a 30 minute prep for a 1st grade and 3rd grade class, back to back. While I was at lunch the math coach came and spoke with me about my substituting (as well as the librarian) for the math coach on their middle school math interventions when the math coach is away for meetings or illness. The interesting part about this conversation was when the math coach told me I should have no problem with my schedule in fitting all of this in. After all, I have all that spare time first thing in the morning, right? It's right there on the schedule! I explained to her that while there are blanks on the schedule, that doesn't mean I'm in the lab twiddling my thumbs. I have a lot of other things I do, and still need to get done. Such as:

Locating 4 iBook laptops on the mobile cart that hold the charge the longest to use for a kinder center. This begins on Monday. Oh, and by the way, I also need to schedule this on the calendar for the mobile cart.

Finish getting the inventory of computers, telephones, printers, projectors, speakers and any other technology device in the school. IT at the district just sent out an email talking about the upgrades in computers that will be occurring soon, which will render the inventory obsolete, and I'll have to do another inventory when the equipment comes in. We already have gotten some mounted technology installed earlier this month (while I was out sick), which is what I've been getting the serial numbers for. I already have gotten a lot of this information written down, I just need to type it onto the spreadsheet.

Put the new toner cartridges the school just purchased into the classroom printers that have run out of ink.

Send back the used printers to the district warehouse.

Update the teacher's laptop computers.

I need to clean the keyboards, mice and screens in the lab computers.

Check on why a printer isn't working for a 3rd grade teacher.

Meet with the Reading First Demonstration Site specialist on creating a brochure to send to schools interested in visiting.

That's just a partial list of stuff that needs to be done, I'm sure I'm forgetting things right now as I type this.

Towards the end of the 1st grade class I got a call from a 6th grade teacher. Apparently the teacher is taking a Smartboard class and needs the software on his computer upgraded in order for him to be able to work off of his laptop in the class. I tried to do this remotely from the lab, but it turned out there were problems with his computer and I had to snag it and take it to the lab. While getting started to work on the computer, the 1st grade class left and I had to reset the computers for the 3rd grade class. During this time, I tried to run the updates, but there was no space left on the laptop's hard drive, so I had to take the laptop back to the teacher, have them log back in so I could go through and delete out the stuff from his hard drive that was causing this. It turned out one of the teacher's own children had put a file full of family pictures on computer and it was taking up 16 GB of space. It took about 30 minutes to get the file transferred to one of my external hard drives, so I could get the update run. By this time, I was running (literally) through the school to grab an extra stop sign in the office and do my afternoon crossing guard duty.

Thankfully I was able to get it done quickly so I could go back to the teacher's classroom to get the updates done.

Was my day over yet? No. I already had an appointment with a 5th grade teacher after school to show how to plug their laptop into the newly mounted projector and speakers in their classroom.

By the time I left, it was 4:30. Technically, as a classified (hourly) employee, I'm supposed to leave at 4:00.

I think I'm finally tired now.