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.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

My day today...

The power went out in my area around midnight, so my day started with my staying awake until 2:00 when the power came back on.

I reset the two alarm clocks

I reset the DVD recorder so I could record Oprah today. She's having Nate Berkus, I love watching him!

I went back to sleep.

I awoke at 6 am this morning.

I had a little "me" time.

I fed Rachel.

I got ready for work.

I gave Rachel a second can of food to hold her over for the rest of the day.

At 7 am I was loading up the car - two trips today.

I arrived at work around 7:15.

I logged onto my computer for the day and found there were updates needed on the computers from during the break.

I ran the updates on my computer, rebooted and logged back in.

Checked my email messages.

At 7:30 I began greeting co-workers.

I picked up my radio in the office.

I cleared out the space and planets stuff out of the display case in the main hallway of the school.

I put away the stuff that was mine, and returned the things belonging to the librarian.

At 8:00 I went outside and did my Crossing Guard job.

At 8:50 I went to the playground area for our Monday Morning Meeting with the entire school.

At 9:00 I checked my voice mails - I don't check them first thing in the morning because I don't have time to fix anything.

I also checked my emails.

I dropped off the book that Pat borrowed.

I dropped off the dvd I made over the weekend of the Nova show on the Hubble Telescope.

Our Tech from the District stopped by and told me about the trouble the office was having with the new scanner they received.

I unloaded the movies out of my bags, I finally remembered to bring in some kid friendly musicals.

I unloaded the Wizard of Oz stuff and opened up the Blue-ray special edition I bought at Costco.

I uploaded the digital version of the movie onto my laptop.

I looked over everything to determine what I would put into the display to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz movie. The book is 109 years old, having been published in May 1900.
While this movie uploaded, I began putting Wizard of Oz books, pictures and other mementos into the display case.

I was asked to report to the Coach's office at 10:00. At this point, I don't know why.

I looked up The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book online and found a link to the PDF of the digital copy. It's copyright ran out years ago on the book so it's in the public domain. I downloaded it onto my laptop.

I found some illustrations to tape up on the back of the display case to show students what the story originally looked like.

I went to the 10:00 meeting, they are asking me to work with the librarian to have an "alternate" music class for the 7th & 8th graders. These are students who don't want to be in Band, Orchestra, Choir and PE is full. The students have been wreaking havoc with the choir teacher, as there was nowhere else for the kids to go. We're going to do it, but neither of us are music teachers. ;o)

At 10:30 I finished printing off some illustrations from the Wizard of Oz book and taped them on the back of the display case.

I began looking up lesson plans for middle school general music classes. I got a few ideas, I'll have to run them by the librarian so we can get something started. We begin teaching on Wednesday. We're limited to what we can do, as this class is not supposed to be a reward for the students.

At 11:30 I stopped researching lesson plans and began prepping the computers for the kindergarten class coming at 12:00. The students don't know what numbers are yet (they might as well be reading Chinese), so I log the students in, reset the computers to use Firefox for the default browser, and set them up for Starfall.

I also substitute this class, the teachers are in meetings during this time.

The kinder class is from 12:05 - 12:35. I then take them to PE.

I log the kids off the computers.

I run the updates on the computers.

I fix the display settings on the computers. I had to change the settings for map testing, now that it's over, I needed to fix the settings.

I eat lunch.

While eating lunch, a teacher tells me she lost the documents folder from her dock, and didn't know how to get it back. I told her to leave her computer up and running and I'll fix it remotely.

I checked my mailbox in the lounge and found that a teacher needed me to locate web sites for the students to locate for specific information - by tomorrow morning.

After lunch I set up the computers for the two second grades. Because they are back to back classes, and I'm subbing, I don't have time to switch the student logins on the computers. So I log the first class in and use those log ins for the second class.

At 2:30 I began subbing the 2nd grade students. They are working on their typing using a fun BBC web site called Dance Mat Typing.

I began looking up web sites, and found most of them.

At 3:00 I walked the kids to PE and picked up the second round of second graders.

I fixed the teacher's documents folder on the computer remotely.

I finished locating web sites.

At 3:25 the teacher of the class came to get them ready to go home.

I began closing down the browser on each computer.

At 3:27 I got ready and went outside for the end of day Crossing Guard duty.

A teacher started their first day of assisting me on the cross walk. Of course there are the disrespectful parents who refuse to use the crosswalk. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, though, these are students who have behavior issues in school.

At 3:45 I returned back to the lab, and began creating the filamentality site for the web sites for the teacher. This is the easiest way for students to go the internet to look up the information the teacher is watching. Here's the finished product:

Woodsong Treasure Hunt

Once finished I emailed the link to the teacher.

I shut down the computers, packed up my stuff and left the school at 4:45.

I stopped off at Mom's house to drop off a calendar she asked me to buy for her.

I went home and brought up my stuff.

I fed Rachel.

I checked my email, facebook, and Barry Manilow sites.

I took a bunch of plastic bags and my grocery bags (cloth bag and freezer bag) to the car.

Bought Rachel more cat food at PetsMart.

I bought fluorescent light bulbs at Home Depot. I also picked up a new flood light for Mom's home.

I dropped off the plastic bags and picked up a few things at Wal Mart.

I used my grocery bags for shopping at Safeway.

I nuked a dinner in the microwave while bringing up purchases.

I put purchases away.

I ate dinner.

I loaded and ran a load of dishes in the dishwasher.

I'm watching Jay Leno as I type this.

I think I'm tired now.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

This is going to be a different kind of post, so I hope you will bear with me and not only read what I have to say, but also enjoy the videos.

Church today was fantastic, as usual. Sometimes I have trouble motivating myself to get to Church, but once I'm there and feel the Spirit of the Lord, I am left in awe and on a higher plane of thought.

Sacrament Meeting was on Godly Sorrow and Repentance. So many people make apologies they don't really mean these days, and this I mean out in the world. All you have to do is view the headlines on the news web sites to see it. It's seen a lot in the political and entertainment industries. How many people have apologized recently, but only after they had been caught? How many have really meant it? How many people apologize with their mouths but not with their hearts? How many have truly experienced Godly sorrow, which is a step in the repentance process?

After coming home from Church, I put the dvd "Testaments" in the machine. It is a fictional story that takes place in real events, during the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. While there are reference shots depicting the life of Christ, this story takes place in the America's and the events are based on events in the Book of Mormon.

Sunday School today had the lesson on the Sacrifice of the early Mormons in Salt Lake City in building the Lord's Church and His Temple. It was mostly focused on the sacrifices and blessings of sacrifices we have today in our own lives.


As you would expect, the scriptures were used heavily.

God's Words Never Cease

There were several different scriptures used, including one of my favorites from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, Section 58:

2 For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
3 Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.
4 For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.

There is a lot to be said about trials and what kind of sacrifices are made in the face of these trials, but there also comes knowledge and blessings. I've witnessed this time and again in my life. The other part, in verse 3, where the scriptures talk about how we don't know right now what is in store for us, but if we keep our foundation strong and faith steered towards Christ, the blessings will be well worth it.

The reason why this means so much to me, as you may have guessed, is because I am a widow. I was sitting today with a few of the other widows in my Ward and we agreed that there have been a lot of things we have had to sacrifice so that our husbands could serve God on the other side. The Lord knows this and I can testify right now, He provides blessings for the predicaments we end up in.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 64: 33-34

33 Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
34 Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.

This scripture talks about obedience and the willingness to serve. This requires your heart to be in the right place, which only comes from repentance. The other thing I noticed was in vs. 33 where it talks about from small things become great things. This reminded me of the book I recently finished called The Tipping Point, where it talks about all kinds of epidemics, including the "epidemic" spread of religion. While the LDS Church was not profiled, it was mentioned. Remember, there were only 6 members of the Church at the time when it was officially organized in 1830.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 82: 10

10 I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

The Lord ALWAYS keeps his promises.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 93:1

1 VERILY, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;

In the process of repentance, you get to know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ very well, or true repentance doesn't happen. I'm sorry, but it's the only way. The good news, once the bitter part has passed, the blessings come. When your heart has truly been turned and touched in the way only Christ can, you have this promise.

Sunday Will Come

Doctrine and Covenants Section 130:19-21

19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.
20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

What kind of knowledge and wisdom do you think people could gain by simply following the Ten Commandments in the Book of Exodus?

Because of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, we can have peace in our hearts despite the tribulation in the world.

Finding Hope

Relief Society was on the value of friendship and being that true friend. This requires all of the above, plus a genuine love and desire to serve your friends. Do you think this is something taught in the world?

What Matters Most

So, the basic, most fundamental question of the day was, Choose You This Day Whom You Will Serve. Take it from a widow, don't procrastinate, because you don't know who will be taken Home to God in your life, including you.

Choose This Day

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jonathan Kozol

If you've never heard of Jonathan Kozol, I invite you to get to know him. He understands the inequities of education between the wealthy vs. the poor, he has been documenting it for years in several books. His 2005 book, The Shame of The Nation, is a must read for anyone who has any interest, whether it be as a parent, educator, or citizen, in education. Click here for a paragraph from The Shame of The Nation from when I finished reading the book.

This is Jonathan Kozol talking about his latest book, "Letters To A Young Teacher".

Here is Jonathan Kozol from 2005 talking about his book, "The Shame of The Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling In America"

Here is the link for another interview of Jonathan Kozol talking about The Shame of The Nation:

This Is America

Barry's Giving Back

Just in time for the Holidays, and the deadline for 2009 tax deductions, Barry Manilow is giving a series of concerts to benefit 25 different local charities for Coachella Valley, including Palm Springs. Barry lives in Palm Springs. Now if Barry could convince the local music celebrities in the Phoenix area to do the same for some of our neediest charities - I'd go!

Here's the source:

Nicely done, Barry.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Have you seen the movie IOUSA? You haven't? Probably because it was released during an election year, and you know how those fussy Democrats and Republicans don't like bad news during an election year.

Why am I talking about the movie? Well, just days after the Dow hit 10,000 on the NYSE, another report came out talking about our national debt: FY09 Worst On Record Since 1945

And now, for your viewing pleasure, a preview of IOUSA:

And for the 30 minute bite sized version, click here.

More Mudslinging

Only this time it's for the financial industry, namely those who have taken TARP money and have done little to help out their customers, namely the ones with underwater or homes in foreclosure.

The stats have come out, and Bank of America and Wachovia are in the lead for those who have benefitted from TARP money but have the lowest of those recipients to have given loan modifications to their customers.

Here is the list from of the bailed out banks.

Here is the list from the Treasury Department of who has given what percentage of loans their modifications via the HAMP program. Be sure to go to page 2 for the breakdown chart.

According to this:

Bank of America - $45 Billion in TARP funds, only 11 % of their loans have been modified.
Wachovia - $1.4 Billion in TARP funds, only 3% of their loans have been modified.

It kind of makes you wonder where the money's gone to? Oh yes, if you've seen the commercials for Michael Moore's new movie on Capitalism, you know that the government doesn't know where the money has gone within the companies receiving TARP funds.

What? Bank of America is reporting a $1.79 Billion loss? Here's a tip for BofA: Get your customers out from underwater mortgages and you just might see better earnings. Here's the source: The Wall Street Journal

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Let The Mud Slinging Begin!

Do you see the number? $263,567,683 and counting, and it's only begun. Now with the Health Insurance Reform bills in closed door sessions, the debating and negotiating have begun, and so has the Health Insurance Industry with even more money - money gained from your health insurance premiums, folks - to work the best deal for them, not for you.

Remember those "studies" from the Health Insurance Industry? Now there is some speculation that they may not all be fact - according to the company who wrote the study! Never mind that, it hasn't stopped the Republicans from quoting it anyway.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Latest Joke In Health Insurance Reform

is actually on the Heath Insurance Industry. And yes, this laughing is for real. I love it when U.S. Senators get ticked off, and that's exactly what has happened. Health Insurance companies and their lobbyists have been spending big money to get the ear of Congress to take not only Single Payer off the table, but also the compromised start of the negotiations - a public plan paid for through Medicare. Okay, they've gotten their wish.

Now, because some of the language is starting to get "soft" on the law to make health insurance coverage mandatory for all U.S. Citizens, the Health Insurance companies are coming out with one "study" after another telling the public that their rates are going to go up if they don't get their way.

Senator Chuck Schumer has answered their response with one of his own: by calling on Congress to repeal the law made in 1945 to make Health Insurance Companies exempt from Anti Trust Laws. This is why you haven't seen much by way of real competition within this market, certainly not like you see with car insurance.


Read it for yourself: Senator Chuck Schumer

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Conversation About Religious Freedom

Religious freedom, which we enjoy through the U.S. Constitution, is under attack. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke on this at BYU. Here is an interview he gave afterwards.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Should Students Be Paid to Do Well in School?

Do you think students in America should be paid to go to school and earn good grades?

Should Students Be Paid to Do Well in School?

To me, knowledge should be something you thirst for. The sad part is, France has socialized education, meaning not only is K-12 paid for by government, but also undergraduate degrees are also paid for.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Truth About The "Death Panels"

The ridiculous notion that the government is going to create a death panel is incorrect. The idea that they will ration care is also false. But, then again, if you have ever had to deal with insurance companies denying coverage for anything (I have), you already know your health care is rationed - not by the government, but by insurance companies who are responding to their Wall Street investors. When are people going to wake up to the fact that health insurance should be non-profit?

You Have To See This To Believe It!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Arco Arena Is Finally Showing Postponed Show

The Arco Arena in Sacramento has finally announced the postponement of Barry's show in Sacramento. They are calling it "scheduling conflicts". At least they are going to honor the tickets sold when the show is re-scheduled, so those with good seats will be able to keep those seats, the people affected by the Hilton shows are out of luck.

San Diego is still showing Barry as coming on Oct. 18th, they are still selling tickets for that concert.

LDS General Conference

You can now download on iTunes the talks and music from General Conference, as well as the General Relief Society Conference.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

One of Many TV Appearances For The Hollywood Bowl Concert

allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Busy Day In Manilowland!

This arrived at 11:30 a.m. this morning in my email inbox:



LAS VEGAS — Barry Manilow’s record-setting five-year engagement at the Las Vegas Hilton will conclude on December 30, 2009.

“Barry Manilow is an exceptional entertainer and we have been extremely fortunate to have had him as our resident headliner at the Las Vegas Hilton for the last five years,” said Ken Ciancimino, Executive Vice President Administration of the Las Vegas Hilton. “Although this current engagement is ending, our friendship with him endures and we will continue to explore possibilities for future endeavors together.”

Barry Manilow began his long-term engagement with the Las Vegas Hilton in February, 2005 with “Manilow: Music and Passion.” His current show, “ULTIMATE MANILOW: The Hits,” debuted in July of 2008. By the end of the year Manilow will have performed well over 300 shows, to nearly 450,000 people with gross ticket sales of more than $70 million.“ULTIMATE MANILOW: The Hits” is packed with chart-topping music spanning his spectacular career, and gives fans an opportunity to enjoy decades of Manilow’s music and his amazing showmanship.

The remaining performances of “ULTIMATE MANILOW: The Hits” at the Las Vegas Hilton are October 1-3, October 8-10, November 27-29 and December 28-30. Show times are 8 p.m. in the legendary Hilton Theater. Stage seat tickets are $225 (plus tax and service charge). The seats are up close and personal with 34 located on each side of the stage and at the same level. Main orchestra tickets are $125-175 (plus tax and service charge); rear orchestra tickets $65-$85 (plus tax and service charge) and balcony $65 (plus tax and service charge). Tickets can be purchased at the Las Vegas Hilton box office, online at,, or by calling 702-732-5755 or 1-800-222-5361.

As if one announcement in one day wasn't enough... I get a second message at about 5:30 p.m.

(OCTOBER 7, 2009– New York, NY) Grammy, Tony, and Emmy Award-winning recording artist Barry Manilow, has just announced that he has re-signed his recording deal with Arista Records and will be releasing two new albums, one of seasonal favorites, ringing in the holidays with contemporary and traditional yuletide repertoire on IN THE SWING OF CHRISTMAS and THE GREATEST LOVE SONGS OF ALL TIME scheduled for release in January, just in time for Valentine’s Day (track listing and details for THE GREATEST LOVE SONGS OF ALL TIME to be announced soon).

On the heels of the extraordinarily successful “decades” series (Greatest Songs of the Fifties, Sixties, Seventies and Eighties), IN THE SWING OF CHRISTMAS¸ produced and arranged by Manilow, will arrive in stores on October 13th. A special pre-order
campaign at the website and at Amazon will ensure that fans will receive IN THE SWING OF CHRISTMAS in its very first week of release.

- snip-

Yes, Barry's keeping very busy these days!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Craig Ferguson

This is really hilarious. It's sad too, but still funny. Imagine you are the comedian who works for David Letterman. Imagine your boss does something he shouldn't have, and is therefore in the forefront of entertainment news... how do you make jokes about it?

Craig Ferguson

Shared via AddThis

Rachel's Latest Favorite Spots To Perch

Sometimes I wonder about this cat...

A New Hotline Message...

Attention Los Angeles Fans!

See Barry tomorrow morning on KTLA at 7:45 AM and see him chat about the Manilow Music Project and his upcoming concert at the Hollywood Bowl!

Tune In!

Too bad there isn't someone there to ask him about the San Diego and Pasadena concerts. The arenas are still selling tickets to them. I wonder what's going to happen when they find out he's not coming?

Funny Education Clips

Education was the talk of the day yesterday on the Colbert Report. He starts off with a fifth grader who is clearly well educated, and then moves on to his guest, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Learning Is Fundamental
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Arne Duncan
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

Monday, October 5, 2009

Boy, What A Day!

This is probably going to be one of those boring posts you'll pass up.

The last two weeks (this is week #3), I've had a bad cough (I have asthma) and am running a low-grade fever.

Last Monday I saw my doctor, and was ordered to go home from the school. He said I had symptoms of H1N1 and because of the fever I was contagious. I went back to the school, turned in the note from the doctor, got my laptop out of the lab (I do a lot of work off of my laptop, but the school district will not issue me a company laptop) and went home.

I stayed home and stayed inside for a week. I mean it. I didn't leave the house until last night when I picked up the mail that was piling up in my mailbox.

I had to stay home today, as I've still got the fever and cough. I went to the doctor and got some antibiotics and was told to stay home another couple of days to give them a chance to work.

Afterwards I went ahead and did some shopping:

Gassed up the car at Costco
Picked up some food and non-food items at Costco (including the latest iCreate Magazine)
Did some shopping at the Walmart Supercenter by my home
Picked up my Odwalla and salads at Safeway

There is still painting going on outside my condo complex, this past week was my turn with my balcony and exterior walls, but the fumes from the paint haven't been real helpful with my lungs. The good news is, it forced me to get my balcony cleaned off so they could paint it. I'm thinking that's going to be a real blessing, I just need to get well again so I can go outside and enjoy the temperatures, once things start cooling off in hot, hot, hot Arizona.

I still have some things to catch up on, and am feeling better than I was last week.

I did get to watch some interesting things, although I've had the television off for most of this quarantine. I've watched Manilow TV, which I am still enjoying. Last night I watched an old version of the movie The Women (1939). It's roughly the same story as the newer version, but I was glad to see they updated Meg Ryan's character in the new version. Moving on with your life and becoming successful with something that is your passion can also be the best revenge to those who have said or done things to hurt you.

The really sad part is that I missed my 25 year high school reunion on Friday, although many are on facebook, so I'm becoming facebook friends with some of them and renewing old friendships.

It's been quite a day.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A True Apology

This is something I learned from listening to The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.

To tell if someone is sincere in their apology, a true apology comes in 3 parts:

I'm sorry.

I'll never do it again.

What can I do to fix this?

Randy said most people will say the first, sometimes the second, but most people never say or do the third. It takes all three for an apology to be sincere.

Singin' The Manilow Blues Part 3

Rarely have I had a Part 3 to any of my posts, but I wanted to post this:

This came from Manilow UK (United Kingdom):

Hi everyone

Well, things certainly have gotten exciting around here!

On the one hand, I'm really sorry to have caused so much pandemonium by postponing and canceling a few shows.On the other hand, I'm very glad that these shows mean so much to you.

Frankly, I'm not exactly sure whether the upset is that I cancelled a few shows or the way I cancelled them.

It seems to me that as soon as my doctors scheduled my surgery, I posted the rescheduling information with enough time for everyone to make new plans. After all, it's only a few shows, I thought.

The doctors tell me that I need between four and six weeks to recuperate so canceling six Hilton shows didn't seem like such a big deal and since the San Diego/Sacramento shows hadn't really been on sale for too long, it didn't seem as if that would cause too many people a lot of trouble.

But I guess I was wrong. So sorry if I was wrong. I really wasn't going to announce my personal, private hip troubles again, but I guess I have to since the freaking out seems to be getting out of hand.

You know, my friends, we're only human. I know many of you think I'm not, but stuff happens to humans. Deaths in the family, sicknesses, technical problems, late arrivals, etc. We all do the best we possibly can all the time to never disappoint you. But stuff happens to us humans. And as hard as we try, we just can't always be perfect.

Out of all the complaints there were only two people who wrote, "I hope Barry's okay". Only two. That was an eye-opener.

You must believe that when things like this happen- cancellations, postponements, delays - there is always a legitimate and unmovable reason for them.

You all must know by now, that me, Garry, John, Marc, Vicki, Kirsten and everyone at Stiletto take your loyalty and friendship very, very seriously and with the utmost responsibility.
If things like this happen, you have to know by now that we have looked at every way to fix problems and that there is absolutely nothing that we can do before we make decisions like this. We all know that it's going to cause people to be upset and it kills us to have to change things.

Causing you guys pain and upset is awful for all of us. We would never make these decisions if there were any other way out.

Once again, my sincere apology to anyone who has been affected by my personal problems.
I'll try to recover as fast as I can.


My prayers are with Barry, but I still have a few questions:

This was sent to the UK Fan Club, is this going to go out to the rest of the fan club?

The second question is: When is someone going to let San Diego and Sacramento know the shows have been postponed? They are still advertising and selling tickets for concerts that are not going to happen.

Third: How would anyone know something was medically wrong with him, given the hotline message sent to EVERYONE saying he was healthy and doing great?

Oh, and one more observation: For a long time Barry has read the message boards and pretended he knew nothing about them. I guess the cat is out of the bag now, he can no longer deny reading the message boards.

Again, my prayers are with Barry, I hope his surgery goes well.

Update: 11:52 am: Management has decided to post the message on the
Update # 2: 8:44 pm: Somewhere around this time this message was removed from

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Singin' The Manilow Blues Part 2

Well, the fur is still flying in Manilowland.

Here is the text of the Hotline sent September 28th:

Hi everyone,

Boy oh boy, this is a very busy and productive time in Manilow-land! I thought I’d bring you all up to date on what I’m working on since there is so much happening.

Manilow TV is a very exciting project and it’s just about ready to go. The videos that I’m about to share with all of you were never meant to be shown publicly. They were meant for me to study and for archival purposes, but I thought that some of you would find them interesting and entertaining, so I’ve decided to share them with you. It’s taken a huge amount of technical work to put them online. Many people have worked long and hard to put this project together, but I’m so grateful to all of you for sticking with me for all these years, I decided to let them out. I sincerely hope you enjoy them and that they bring back great memories for all of you and surprises for those of you who never got to see those performances.

The Hollywood Bowl concert is fast approaching and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I’ve never performed an evening there and it should be thrilling for all of us. We’ve got the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra backing us up. Hearing all of these gorgeous arrangements and orchestrations finally being played by a 50 member orchestra should be fantastic. I can’t wait. Hope you can make it.

Now about the next few CD releases.

My “Fifteen Minutes” CD isn’t ready to release yet. As I’ve told you, it’s more guitar driven and rock oriented than I’ve ever done Since I’m in uncharted waters, it’s taking me longer to create this one than I expected. I’m very proud of the 17 songs that Enoch Anderson and I have written. They’re emotional and edgy and they all tell a story. I think you’ll like it. However, it won’t be done until next summer.

In the meantime Clive Davis has asked that I record a CD called “Barry Manilow Sings The Greatest Love Songs Of All Time”. I know I said that I was done with recording cover albums, but getting to sing and arrange songs written by Irving Berlin, George Gershwin and Burt Bacharach was a very difficult thing to turn down. We’re nearly done with this CD and I must tell you it’s turning out to be one of the most beautiful albums I’ve ever made. It’s an honor to sing and arrange songs written by the greatest composers of all time. Releasing three albums of music in 18 months is amazing. Lots of work, but very satisfying
and creative.

Between all of albums, Manilow TV and a brand-new live show in Vegas, I hope you don’t get sick of me!

I’ve been getting comments about how thin I look these days. That’s me. Skinny guy. But I’m healthy and filled with energy and thank goodness, I still have my hair! So please don’t be concerned about me. As long as I have my music and all of you, I’m fine.

Thanks everyone for everything.



Here is the text of the email that was sent to a handful of people on September 29th:

With so many great projects underway…..we need to juggle some of the upcoming concert dates.

The San Diego and Sacramento concerts dates are going to move to the Spring. We’ll release the exact dates as soon as we have them.

And unfortunately…..we need to cancel two weekends in Las Vegas…..October 29-31 and November 12-14. Refunds for the two canceled weekends will be available at the source of your ticket purchase. Tickets purchased through the BMIFC will automatically be credited to your credit card.

We’re sorry we had to make these adjustments.

San Diego is still selling tickets to, and advertising, the concert. I don't know if Sacramento has gotten the word yet. Every day there are fans coming online who have just found out their shows are cancelled. Tales of people who bought tickets for themselves and their children, stories of people who were planning their anniversary or birthday celebrations with the concerts, some people saving for years just so they could see Barry. And still no official announcement on the cancelations.

Meanwhile Barry is in the studio recording the Greatest Love Songs cd. He started recording again on September 30th. I'm not sure if he's even aware of what is happening in the rest of Manilowland.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Singin' The Manilow Blues

There are some really sad things going on in Manilowland.

To get the full crux of this story, you would need to start off by reading my friend Suzanne's blog, Manilow Musings.

Now, in full disclosure, I had a ticket for Barry's November 13th show that is no longer going to take place. I also had tickets for June concerts that were also cancelled. Thankfully I've not lost money on airline fees and hotel room cancellation fees (if they allow you to cancel at all), the only thing I got charged for was a cancellation fee by Ticketmaster in June. I wait until a few days before the shows to make my hotel and airline accommodations, that way I'm pretty certain that this concert is actually going to take place. Typically, when I made arrangements to see Barry in the past I've not had to do this, but these days it seems the cancellations are becoming more and more frequent.

Here are some comments and observations:

First off, Stiletto (Barry's Management) didn't make a formal announcement of the cancellation of the shows, so it took about 24 hours before the Hilton actually stopped selling ticket and room packages for Barry's shows. I don't know how many people were affected in those 24 hours, but it shows a complete lack of concern for Barry's paying public - fan or civilian - for Stiletto to allow that to happen to Barry's customers. Barry's concerts in California are still selling tickets - with the now cancelled dates on them, and even holding a drawing for a free trip to a show that isn't going to happen as scheduled. You see, these venues want to hear from Barry's management that these shows have been rescheduled.

All of this is snowballing because Stiletto refuses to put out an "official" message on the web site concerning these concert dates. They were hoping to bury this to keep the momentum going for Manilow.TV and Barry's concert at the Hollywood Bowl, which, by the way, they've put out another "Hotline" message for. Now that the concerts in the other So. Cal. areas have been postponed, you (and your money) should now be free for the Hollywood Bowl. At least that's the message Stiletto is sending whether it means to or not.

The other sad part is how this is affecting Barry's fans. As Suzanne talked about, even the diehard fans are crying foul over this. I already know of two people who have previously left the MMN message boards over the lack of civility between fan club members (and that's just the two latest fans, there are more who have left). I have a feeling there may be more to come given the amounts of money these people have spent and lost with this latest round of cancellations.

Even if they don't leave, they will be more hesitant to spend the money they did in the past.

Now there is the unconfirmed rumor that Barry is leaving the Hilton, which leads to speculation as to whether there will be more cancellations of the remaining shows for 2009.

Not Quite Nightmare Before Christmas

This is a comedian, Jeff Dunham and his friend, Achmed, the suicide bombing terrorist. This is not for children.
Jeff Dunham - Santa Claus
WalterAchmedJeff Dunham Videos
Jeff Dunham - Christmas Carols
WalterAchmedJeff Dunham Videos